This summer the eyes of the world turn to Brazil, the host of soccer’s 2014 World Cup. These books about soccer will give readers a glimpse at soccer’s popularity around the world.
“Goal!” by Sean Taylor, Illustrated by Caio Vilela, 2014, Henry Holt, ages 4-8.
In some ways, soccer is a simple sport, requiring only a ball, goal posts, and players. The beauty of this simplicity is that soccer can be enjoyed by people from different cultures who speak different languages. This same theme of simplicity carries into the book “Goal!”, where lyrical text and stunning color photographs present the story of soccer throughout the world. Soccer facts from around the world are presented alongside the poetic form.
“Soccermania, Futbolmanía” by Juan Pablo Lombana & Zamie Casazola, 2014, Scholastic, ages 7-10.
Information about soccer around the world is presented in English and Spanish in a parallel format on each page. Readers will learn about soccer’s beginnings in ancient Greece, Japan, and China. Information about modern-day soccer includes soccer nicknames, the World Cup, and the tradition of players trading jerseys. Diagrams and maps present information in an easily understood format.
“Soccer on Sunday” (fiction) by Mary Pope Osborne and “Soccer” (informational) by Mary Pope Osborne & Natalie Pope Boyce, 2014, Random House, ages 7-10.
The Magic Tree House series has created a set of partner texts with a fiction and informational set about soccer. “Soccer on Sunday”, the fictional book, tells the story of Annie and Jack and their magical travels to the 1970 World Cup in Mexico City. In the style of the 50 other Magic Tree House books, Mary Pope Osborne delivers a mystery with just the right mixture of fantasy and history to keep readers engaged. “Soccer”, the nonfiction companion, shares the laws of the game, great players, and the ways soccer changes lives. Photos, sketch illustrations, and embedded vocabulary definitions present information in a variety of ways. The combination of fiction and informational from these partner books supports both entertainment and learning.
“The Kicks: Sabotage Season” by Alex Morgan, 2013, Simon & Schuster, ages 8-12, 169 pages.
“Sabotage Season” is a soccer story written by a soccer player, Alex Morgan, a member of the US women’s national soccer team and a competitor in the 2011 FIFA World Cup and a member of the 2012 US Olympic gold medal women’s soccer team. In this story, Devin and her soccer teammates have their eyes on making the playoffs. But Devin’s uniform and soccer bag are missing just before a big game, and the team’s attention is turned to solving a mystery, rather than kicking a soccer ball. Morgan artfully weaves soccer with friendship and mystery, engaging readers who may or may not be soccer fans.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler