Making the grade by Cate Shearwater
Somersaults and Dreams bk 1. Egmont, 2015. ISBN 9781405268783
(Age: 9-12) Gymnastics. School life. Friends. Family. Thirteen-year-old gymnast Ellie happily lives in Cornwall with her ship-builder father, artist mother and younger sister Lucy. Her dream however is to be an Olympic gymnast like her aunt. With help from Fran, her local coach, Ellie wins a scholarship to the prestigious London Gymnastics Academy. Ellie boards at Head-Over-Heels House with the other out-of-town gymnasts. Twins Nancy, Tam, and their mother Mandy, who looks after the house, make Ellie feel welcome and help her settle in.
Ellie faces many challenges, she worries about her own gymnastics skill levels and she hasn't taken her Grade 2 compulsory exam. Queen bee Scarlett, another team member, delights in commenting on Ellie's abilities, and she bullies her relentlessly. While Ellie is at the Academy she searches for the truth about her Aunt Lizzie who fell from the beam at the Olympics. This stopped the British team from winning the gold medal and ended her sporting career.
Emma their coach is there to support and encourage the team to strive for their best. 'Gymnastics will teach you discipline and teamwork. It will give you courage and self-belief.' Ellie loves the academy, developing her skills on the floor, balance beam and other equipment. Surrounded by her friends, she loves the business of school, sharing the house with her friends and finding time for socialising.
When Ellie brings Tam and Nancy to her home in Cornwall, she introduces them to boating activities, boat races and family fun. Cate Shearwater's Making the grade focuses on finding your secret ingredient, your life-balance with your training and dedication. This is the first in the Somersaults and dreams series is a great read for girls from 9-12 years of age.