Tag: soccer

Braced by Alyson Gerber

Braced by Alyson Gerber

Braced by Alyson Gerber (9780545902144, Amazon)

Rachel is looking forward to a great year. She has two best friends and it’s looking like she may not just make the soccer team but may be playing forward. She even has a crush on a boy, Tate, in her class. Just as her plans start to take off though, she is hit with news about her scoliosis which has been being monitored for years. Rachel must wear a brace to correct the curve of her spine. She has to wear it 23 hours a day, every day. The brace changes how she can kick the soccer ball, how she breathes, how she runs and how she eats. Worse though, it changes how everyone sees her, including her best friends and Tate. What had been going to be the best year ever has become the worst year ever.

Gerber, who wore a brace herself for scoliosis, has created a piercingly clear look at life-changing events like wearing a brace. She takes the time to really look at the brace itself, the impact that it has on an athlete, and the changes it makes in self-perception. I haven’t read a book since Deenie by Judy Blume that tackles this subject and it was high time for a new take on it.

As the adults in Rachel’s life push her to quickly accept the brace, Rachel pushes back and insists on continuing to play soccer. Rachel appears to be coping well, but she is bottling so much up inside her. She is a great character, demonstrating with honesty and strength the importance of voicing aloud to those you love what you are experiencing and feeling. Once Rachel begins to do that, others can support her and help her through. It’s a lesson in vulnerability leading to better understanding that is gracefully presented.

Strong, human and timely, scoliosis impacts ten percent of teens. Appropriate for ages 12-14.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Booked by Kwame Alexander (InfoSoup)

In his follow up to the Newbery-Award-winning The Crossover, Alexander once again blends sports and poetry. Nick loves soccer and is really good at it too. Nick and his best friend are on opposing teams in an upcoming soccer cup and Nick is also getting ready to ask out April, a girl he can’t stop thinking about. Everything is going well except for his father who insists that Nick read the dictionary of large words that he personally created. That’s when Nick finds out that his mother is moving away for a job working with horses, leaving Nick with his father, not a great combination. Nick will have to rely on soccer and his best friend to get him through this rough patch. Because there is more tough road to come.

Alexander is quite simply amazing. He writes verse that is both poetic and beautiful but also accessible and welcoming to young teens who may be far more interested in kicking a ball than reading a book, especially a book of poetry. Alexander also demonstrates throughout the book the power of words both in his poetry itself and through the story line, where Nick is clearly smart and uses words from his father’s collection without even thinking about it. Nicely, definitions are provided in footnotes.

Nick is a protagonist who is easy to relate to. He has several things on his mind: soccer, girls and gaming. It is life though that pulls him outside of those interests and broadens his scope. His father does this in a clumsy way, forcing Nick to learn words. A school librarian also helps, getting books that Nick will clearly love directly into his hands. So as much as this is a book about a smart young teen boy, it is also a book about the power of having adults who care in your life.

A worthy follow-up to his first verse novel, this book is just as beautifully written. Appropriate for ages 11-13.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

Review: Kenta and the Big Wave by Ruth Ohi

kenta and the big wave

Kenta and the Big Wave by Ruth Ohi

When the tsunami sirens sounded, Kenta headed up the big hill to the school just as he had practiced.  But along the way, he lost hold of his soccer ball and it rolled down the hill.  Kenta’s parents were already at the school and when they returned to their house, it was ruined.  They had to sleep in the school gym and search in the rubble for things to salvage.  But Kenta’s soccer ball had been carried off by the water.  Kenta tried making a soccer ball from scraps but it didn’t work well.  Meanwhile, his ball was being carried by the ocean until it reached another country.  Would it ever find its way back to Kenta?

Ohi has written a very simple but compelling look at surviving a natural disaster.  Her focus on a single beloved possession works particularly well.  I also appreciated that it was not a doll or a stuffed animal but rather something that older children can relate to.  It was also a good choice to not have Kenta and his family in direct peril and survive.  The safe status of everything but the ball and other material objects makes it easier for the ball to be important and mean more.

Ohi’s illustrations are filled with color.  The yellows of the grass pop against the blues of the ocean.  Kenta wears a bright red hoodie and stands out on each page.  The time the ball spends in the ocean is particularly lovely and quiet compared to the mess of the town.

Based on true accounts of objects appearing in other countries after the tsunami in Japan, this book celebrates the connection people can have without ever having met.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Annick Press.

Review: Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boelts

happy like soccer

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.