Andersen Press pbk
All the boys in newcomer to the team’s story, dream that impossible dream of becoming famous footballers, but none more so he who has just had his shoelaces tied together, the teasing all those new to the squad are subjected to.
The tale begins one Sunday with a Lowry-like portrayal of this particular boy’s debut game on a chilly-looking pitch – one of many – in an urban neighbourhood behind which chimneys belch out filthy smoke.
The narrative structure – both visual and verbal – is somewhat complex for, as the match starts, the story takes on a timeless ‘out of body’ dimension as it moves between the real and imagined and back and forth in time:
‘It was perfect.”
“Head over the ball, ”
“balance, power, timing . . .”
“As soon as he kicked it, ”
“he knew it was going to be a goal.
It was a screamer.’
So, one minute we are there at that first match, the next in his dad ‘s boyhood bedroom with its wall-to-wall soccer heroes, then fast forward to another wonder goal some time in the future.
The personal and impersonal sit side by side in this story. The sound of the quietly understated text has an impersonal tone whereas visually, the paintings are rich with passion and vibrancy. And, the back endpapers are frames from the author’s own sketchbooks of soccer scenes from troubled regions as far afield as the Berlin Wall
and the Golan Heights from 1970 to the foot of Mt. Fuji in 1997 and Marseille in 1999.
With the football fascination set to be on the rise with the World Cup looming large, this is one for fans of all ages from about six upwards.
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Mina Javaherbin and Renato Alarcao
Walker Books pbk
Set in Brazil, the story centres around a group of young children living in poverty. Their days are full of work, their heads, of dreams. These dreams, in particular those of narrator Paulo Marcelo Feliciano who says he will lead his team to the top, bring a special energy and light to the hardships of everyday life
and the daily evening soccer game is a treasured, shared time. Paulo Marcelo Feliciano has a younger sister Maria and they have a reciprocal arrangement: she teaches him the maths she’s learned in school, he teaches her football moves. There is one problem though; the football teams are girls only. But then comes the day when one of Paolo’s team is injured during a game: time to rethink the boys only stipulation …
The final spread, like the story, is alight with hope, strength and the affirming lights of the hillside homes.
Believe in yourself, listen to your heart, follow your dreams are the themes that shine forth from this empowering story.
Great World Cup reading – before and beyond.
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