Diary of a Tennis Prodigy | Shamini Flint

Kernel Deb embraces her inner eleven year old and re-enters the world of poor Marcus Atkinson in DIARY OF A TENNIS PRODIGY, the poor child is tormented to play sport by his slightly odd father and author of the book series, Shamini Flint. You see this is Marcus’s ninth attempt to master a sport, something that in Australian terms is as successful as pushing shit uphill. As you will see from Deb’s review this is a children’s book and is perfecto for kids under twelve, especially boys. DIARY OF A TENNIS PRODIGY is out now from the folks at Allen and Unwin Book Publishers, you will find it in most book stores or you can obtain it from HERE. Enjoy Deb’s thoughts…..all the best…..JK.


DIARY OF A TENNIS PRODIGY is Marcus Atkinson’s ninth attempt at a new sport, following on from ill-fated forays into soccer, cricket, rugby, taekwondo, athletics, swimming, soccer and golf. Unfortunately for Marcus, his father seems convinced tennis will be Marcus’s true calling, and so therein lies this wryly humorous tale in which author Shamini Flint has great fun parodying overly competitive sporty kids along with their aspirational parents.

Nine year old Marcus Atkinson was behind the door when God gave out sporting ability. Marcus prefers computer games, watching TV, playing with his baby sister, and even homework, to sport. He insightfully realises that his poor coordination and disinterest in sport make sporting greatness unlikely. Worse still his ineptitude make him a target for other children, who are quite willing to humiliate him as he attempts to participate.


Shamini Flint Author image


Marcus’s father is an aspirational positive psychology devotee, and the author of his own self-help book “Pull Yourself up by Your Own Bootstraps”. He is a nice guy who helps old people cross the road, gives to charity, and cheers up crying children. Despite this he is completely unable to accept his son’s sporting incompetence, remaining convinced that Marcus’s sporting failures are purely the result of not having found the right sport yet. His attempts to discover the perfect sport for his son, misguided encouragement, along with selected quotes from his self-help book, allows FLINT to deftly parody over-involved sporting parents that believe that their children are undiscovered sporting geniuses destined for greatness.

Marcus, being a compliant nine year old, isn’t quite up to disappointing his father even though he is quite capable of seeing the ridiculousness of his father’s positive affirmations. DIARY OF A TENNIS PRODIGY charts Marcus’s attempts to give tennis a go despite his lack of sporting prowess. FLINT loves tennis so tennis jokes abound, with poor Marcus completely misunderstanding top spin, service, FEDX, unseeded, going without balls, and numerous other tennis related terms.

Author SHAMINI FLINT was a corporate lawyer in an earlier phase of life, but currently juggles being a full-time writer with part-time lecturing, environmental activism and being a stay-at-home mum. Flint travelled extensively though Asia for her work, so in many of her book series Asian locations loom large with her characters transplanted to locales in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali, Cambodia, India, Malaysia. She is best known for her INSPECTOR SINGH INVESTIGATES series, but her children’s books are more numerous. According to her website FLINT has become interested in sustainability and environmentalism, motivating her to use recycled paper for her books, write books about endangered animals, support fair trade products, and donate a portion of her book profits to World Wide Fund for Nature. Some of her children’s books also have overtly environmental themes.


Diary of a Tennis Prodigy Book Cover image


Flint’s DIARY SERIES in contrast, lack the Asian locations and environmental concerns. They seem to be aimed at a wider audience, most especially young male readers for whom sport can be a bruising part of life. DIARY OF A TENNIS PRODIGY and the other books in this series, do invite comparison with the more well-known DIARY OF A WIMPY KID (DOAWK) series. Like DOAWK the cartoonish illustrations make DIARY OF A TENNIS PRODIGY a quick easy read for primary-school readers, but Adelaide based illustrator Sally Heinrich’s style is more like Terry Denton (THE BAD BOOK, 65 STORY TREEHOUSE) than Jeff Kinney. Her illustrations bring Flint’s humorous dialogue alive, and aptly illustrate Marcus’s sporting anxieties.

Marcus’s less than mediocre sporting talent makes for entertaining reading. Short of a Roger Federer body-transplant Marcus is never going to be a tennis star but his attempts to do so are funny, good natured and perfectly suited for readers aged 7 -11 yrs. Better still Flint takes a gentle swipe at parents who believe their children can achieve anything they turn their hand to, making it clear that parental aspirations do not always match those of their children.


FIONA’S NOTE: 4/5 but only if you’re an 11yr old 🙂

4 Pops


Deborah is a lifelong lover of books, food, TV and film with a penchant for schlock horror, superheroes, science fiction, black comedy and Asian martial arts stars. She would prefer to skydive than couch surf and is a fan of zombie walks. She can be found plugged into podcasts on long walks with her dog.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.