Offbeat, by Marlane Ainsworth

‘So,’ I said, tying to get this footy business into my head once and for all, ‘Buttface roams all over the field, you kick all the goals. What does the rest of the team do?’
‘All sorts of things. Tackle, block, scream, smother, chase, hammer.’
I shuddered. ‘Sounds like Holst’s music about the planet Mars, the Bringer of War. I’ll play it for you next time you come.’

Tommo are Smelly are an unlikely pair to be best friends. Tommo loves classical music and plays the trumpet in the school band. Smelly (her real name is Simone Melling) loves football, and plays for the school team. One is neat and fastidious, the other is messy and rough. But they have been friends for a long time, and nothing can change that. Or can it?

The School Band has an opportunity to compete in a band competition in the city. The football team is invited to participate in a carnival. The problem is, the principal says the school only has enough funds for one trip. Which one will be chosen? With that drama out of the way, Smelly and Tommo, and their respective groups, have other challenges to overcome, including a mix ups ending the team busses to the wrong events.

Offbeat is a fun children’s novel which takes a humorous look at the cultural clash between sport and the arts, and at how friendships can survive often-competing interests. The use of a male and a female as the two central characters means the books is likely to appeal to both boy and girl readers, and kids will like that the girl is the footy player and the boy the neat-freak musician.

Suitable for readers aged 10-12.

Offbeat, by Marlane Ainsworth
Fremantle Arts Centre press, 2006