Little Ash by Ash Barty and Jasmin McGaughey

Reviewed by Gail McDonald

Ash Barty, after her successful tennis career, joined forces with Jasmin McGaughey in writing a series of books for young readers which were each illustrated by Jade Goodwin.

The books focus on Ash’s love of sports trying karate, softball, netball and gymnastics, but none of them gives her that tingly feeling when you find the one sport that you know you absolutely love to do.

Each book has a message for the reader about skills and attributes that are needed in life.

Little Ash – Perfect Match

Little Ash – Perfect Match is the first book in the series where Ash as a seven-year-old is about to start her first day in year two. A big day, because during the week she has to decide what sport she is going to play.

To help her decide she enlists her best friend James to start Project Find-a-Sport-That-Ash-Loves.

Her first venture is Handball – a game where you have to use your hand to hit a ball into a square.  It doesn’t give her a tingly feeling. Neither does hopscotch, or imagination ball. Finally, Ash shows James a made-up game that she plays at home, hitting a tennis ball with a squash racquet. She does well at that but then her dad gives her a tennis racquet to hit the ball and Ash has found the game she loves, the game that makes her feel tingly.

Little Ash – Friendship Fix-it

Little Ash – Friendship Fix-it is the second book in the Ash series. In this book Ash has to decide whether she should help her friend or play tennis so that she can get some practice before the game on the weekend.

Little Ash’s entire class has a project to do and she has chosen to do it on her favourite Australian tennis player, Evonne Goolagong Cawley who is a Wiradjuri woman and who was the world number one tennis player before Ash was even born. Ash wants to grow up just like her. Her project is really large and she nearly drops it as she goes to class, luckily her friend Riley helps to keep it balanced and safe.

Her friend James is also doing a project. On his way into class James slips on a wayward hand ball and falls over and his project slips out of his hands and smashes to the ground. He needs lots of help to fix it.

James asks Ash to help him but Ash wants to play tennis. She thinks James understands but she can’t identify the funny feeling she has in her tummy when she says no.

Finally, after asking other people ‘what should she do – help James or play tennis’, she decides that she should help him and the funny feeling in her tummy goes away.

The book has a message:  being a good friend is really important and sometimes other things you want to do can wait.

Little Ash – Tennis Rush

Little Ash – Tennis Rush is the third book in the Ash series. It is the day of tennis tournament, but Ash was in a hurry to get there and forgot her favourite hat.

Ash was so excited about the game she woke early before the rest of the family woke up, watched television until they got out of bed.

James joined the family to watch Ash play in her first tournament. They all piled into the car and as they are driving Ash was thinking about what a great day it was going to be, when she realises she forgot her favourite cap. It was too late to turn around and she regrets that she was in such a rush to get to the tennis – that is why she forgot it.

On the way, the car in front of their car got a flat tyre and they held the traffic up for what seemed like ages. Ash was worried that she would miss her game. They got there just in time.

Ash is playing Zia. She remembers her dad’s last words to her were stay calm and have fun.

Ash wins the first set and then Zia wins the second. James calls out from the side-line don’t give up.   Ash wins the third set and the match. She is so excited Ash forgot to shake Zia’s hand – a really important thing to do in tennis to demonstrate good sportsmanship.

Ash realises what she has done and apologises to Zia and gives Zia the ice-cream her father promised to show how badly she feels. It is important to be kind.

Little Ash – Goal Getter

Little Ash – Goal Getter is the fourth book in this series. Ash loves playing sport but when she loses the lunch-time footy match, it sends her into a spin. What if she can’t win anything again?

Ash’s team is plying touch footy and her team is about to win. She throws the ball to her friend James – he didn’t catch it and neither did anyone else. The ball landed in a puddle of mud just as the bell rang to go back into class. They lost the game and Ash is upset – what if losing the game means she has lost her footy skills?

When she gets home in the afternoon, Ash won’t play elastics with her sisters in case she loses again. They try to get her to play a board game – but again all she can think of is ‘what if she loses at a board game’ too.

Ash finally agrees to play mini golf with her sisters and together they create a mini golf game.  They agree that the loser will have to do the dinner dishes that night. Once again Ash loses and she is very sad.

That night with James joining the family for pizza night they settle in to watch their favourite football team – and you guessed it they lost.

Ash’s dad explains to her that even though we might like to win, we can’t win all the time. The special thing you can learn from losing is to pick yourself up, be proud you did your best and try again next time.

Little Ash [four books]

[2022]

by Ash Barty and Jasmin McGaughey

Harper Collins

ISBN 978 146076 276 9; 978 146076 277 6; 978 146076 278 3; 978 146076 279 0

$9.99 [each]; 64pp [each]

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