REVIEW: Hooked On Netball by B. Hellard and L. Gibbs (Netball Gems Book 1)

Published: 1st April 2016

Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia

Pages: 144

Format: Paperback (Purchased)

RRP: $12.99

4/5 Stars

Maddy can’t wait to play her first game of netball with her new team. She’s been training hard and is eager to try out her skills. But Maddy’s excitement soon turns to nerves when she realizes that things might not go exactly as she imagined. What position will coach Janet put her in? What if she gets asked to sit on the bench? Perhaps some inspiration from one of the Australian Diamonds players will finally get Maddy hooked on netball.



From the creators of the early 2000’s series Netball of Nothing, comes a new netball series for young readers, The Netball Gems. Full of tips on how to play better, and featuring characters who love the game and their team just as much as any young girl,The Netball Gems series has proven time and time to be a hit for young readers.

Growing up, I played netball and absolutely adored the game, but found it incredibly frustrating that next to no fiction books existed on the game. That changed when as a teenager in the early 2000s Bernadette Hellard and Libby Gibbs teamed up together and released a four book series titled Netball of Nothing. I devoured those books like no bodies business and could relate to a young teen playing the game and the pressures faced on and off the courts at that difficult age. Back then, these books were hard to get and often considered a very niche market title. Now, I’m happy to report things have mostly changed with both book stores and department stores carrying the range.*

B.Hellard and L. Gibbs are back and better than ever with The Netball Gems series, a new and revolutionary series aimed at younger readers who are just learning to play and live and breath netball. Ideally the book is aimed at readers between the ages of 9-11 years old.

Consisting of eight books in total (all of which are now out), The Netball Gems series focuses around the under 13s Marrang team, which each player on their team getting their own book. In Hooked On Netball, the first book in the series, the focus is on Maddy Browne, a young player who aspires to play for the Diamonds, Australia’s national netball team one day.

Although the team is the under 13s, the characters and the story are safe for readers of all ages to read, as the characters themselves read slightly younger than their twelve years of age. This isn’t a deterrent to older readers, but it is something to keep in mind when going into the story.

Hooked On Netball is overall a cute and sweet homage to netball players of all ages and abilities. The themes of friendship, teamwork, and the reminder that sometimes playing isn’t everything – you need a balance between that and family – are universal and will resonate with readers and players of all ages.

As well as giving a few neat tricks and technique reminders expertly worked within the story itself, Hellard and Gibbs have created character bio’s, game tips and even a basic breakdown of the game and its positions at the back of the book, which is a unique and welcome surprise. There is even a surprise cameo from Australian Diamond’s player Madi Robinson.

All in all, Hooked On Netball is the perfect sports book for young readers learning to play the sport. Full of tips and techniques, the novel will not only entertain them, but fascinate and encourage their love for the game.

*please note that while the individual books I’m reviewing are not widely found in stores currently, there are bind ups of the books that are regularly around.

To purchase a copy of Hooked On Netball, visit the following online retailers:

Penguin Books Australia | Booktopia | Books Direct | ABC Shop | Amazon AUS | Amazon US | QBD | Dymocks |


To learn more about B. Hellard and L. Gibbs, visit the following social media pages:

Penguin Random House Australia-B.Hellard | Penguin Random House Australia – L.Gibbs




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