Thursday, April 3, 2014
Review: Soccer Star
Author: Mina Javaherbin
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Availability: April 8, 2014
Review Copy: Hard copy from publisher
Summary: When Paulo Marcelo Feliciano becomes a soccer star, crowds will cheer his famous name! Then his mother won’t have to work long hours, and he won’t have to work all day on a fishing boat. For now, Paulo takes care of his little sister Maria (she teaches him reading, he teaches her soccer moves) and walks her to school, stopping to give his teammates cheese buns as they set out to shine people’s shoes or perform for the tourist crowd. At day’s end, it’s time to plan the game, where Givo will bounce, Carlos will kick, and Jose will fly! But when Jose falls on his wrist, will the team finally break the rules and let a girl show her stuff? Set in a country whose resilient soccer stars are often shaped by poverty, this uplifting tale of transcending the expected scores a big win for all.
Review: In Soccer Star readers meet a young boy named Paulo Marcelo Feliciano who lives in Brazil. He loves soccer and loves to learn. He spends much of his day working though so is unable to go to school. In the late afternoon and evening his younger sister shares what she learns at school and he shares soccer with her.
Like Javaherbin's previous book Goal! we see hope and perseverance amidst difficult living situations. Though times are hard for the characters, they have an optimistic outlook and live life with joy. They are dreaming big and they don't hold back.
Elementary age students are often intrigued by issues of justice. Seeing that children are missing school to earn money is sure to catch their attention. The fact that girls aren't allowed on the soccer team will also likely have some students questioning the lack of fairness there too. I anticipate lively discussions as a result of reading this book with students.
Beyond that, soccer is a topic that crosses gender, class, and geographic lines. Soccer is a language that many children understand so I know this book will speak to them.
And last, but not least, the illustrations are gorgeous. There is a warmth surrounding the characters and the pictures are joyful. They are also full of life and energy. Everything is very pretty and clean, but looking closely readers can still see the broken pieces of netting in the goal and notice things like the children playing without soccer gear.
I look forward to sharing Soccer Star with staff and students. It's a positive text and will likely inspire readers to work for change in the world.