I have been a big fan of the Alfie Jones series of books since I read the first one, Alfie Jones and a change of fortune. When I heard that David Fuller had written another one in the series, Alfie Jones and the Big Decision, I couldn’t wait to read it. Although these books are aimed at children they are enjoyable for adults to read as well. Each book can be read without having read the others in the series, but if you have read the other books you will be familiar with the characters and the interaction between them.
Alfie Jones is a football mad boy who dreams of becoming a professional footballer. He has been playing for the Kingsway Colts for years and dreams of being offered a place in their football academy. Some of his friends have already been given places there and he longs to follow in their footsteps. In this book Alfie has turned twelve and just started at Tideway Secondary School. He realises that most professional footballers have already joined the academy by the time they are in secondary school and time is running out for him to get chosen. To make things more confusing for him it appears that Daisy Saunders, a girl at school, has taken an interest in Alfie. Being twelve he is unsure how to act and takes to hiding and running away when he sees her to prevent himself becoming embarrassed. It is a lot to deal with.
When Alfie gets offered a trial for a professional football teams academy he is over the moon. It is not the academy for his local team, but it is a chance to realise his dreams. Only when he discusses it with his parents he realises it might be quite hard to travel for the training if he makes the cut. First though he has to make the grade. This is the perfect time for the mysterious fortune teller Madam Zola to appear, with the mysterious chiming of wind chimes. Madame Zola has the habit of turning up and making pronouncements on Alfie’s future but leaving him to figure out what she means. She tells Alfie he has a big decision to make and he is left wondering if he should accept the invitation to go to the football trials after all.
To further distract him Daisy appears to want to meet him. When he turns up it seems she is friends with Alfie’s nemesis, Jasper Johnson, which throws things into further confusion for Alfie. What will be the outcome for Alfie? Will he make the right decision and start the road being a professional footballer? You need to read the book to find out.
As with all of David Fuller’s books the book shows an understanding of football played at school level. The excitement of each match is carefully captured with the descriptions of the game. The way the scouts are looking for talent is described perfectly, watching the game and the way the kids play, without them being aware. The book is about more than football though, it is about growing up and how a young boy is learning how to manage relationships with girls. Even Madam Zola has her part, her cryptic messages often end up being important lessons that Alfie needs to work out. It is an enjoyable book and one that will appeal to boys, who often show a reluctance to pick up a book.