Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Sierra loves to play soccer, especially on the field that is well maintained with a real soccer goal, not two garbage cans next to each other. But now that she plays on a team, her aunt can’t come to her games because she has to work. Sierra’s coach tells her he is glad to have her on the team and asks her if there is anything she needs, but Sierra always says no. When her aunt manages to get time off to attend Sierra’s final game of the series, the game is rained out. Sierra knows that her aunt can’t get two Saturdays off in a row, can’t ask for two favors so close together. Sierra has to figure out how to fix this herself, because her aunt just has to see her play at least once this season!
Boelts has written this book poetically, with the lines in stanzas that make it read like a poem. She also uses phrases that turn it into poetry, repetition and spare but true language. Her writing has a great lilt to it, pointing to someone who speaks with an accent that makes their own phrasing dance. It’s beautifully done, fully capturing the love between Sierra and her aunt and the fact that the two of them are a complete family.
Castillo’s art adds to this feeling of family. The book is set firmly in an urban environment, one that is escapable by bus but also one that is home. The illustrations cement that setting. The thick black lines and bright colors also have a subtlety that is unexpected.
A celebration of a small family, an urban community and sports, this picture book glows with love. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from library copy.