Soccer: "The Beautiful Game" | A World Cup Bookshelf

The world's most-viewed sporting event kicks off next month. Here are some books to have on your turf as the excitement builds.

Here are some books to have on your turf as World Cup excitement builds. 

BROWN, Monica. Pelé King of Soccer / Pele, El Rey del Fútbol. illus by Rudy Gutierrez. 40p HarperCollins. 2017. $6.99 pap. ISBN 9780061227806.
Gr 2-5–This bilingual account of the Brazilian superstar's life opens by sweeping readers up in a big game. Brisk sentences and well-chosen similes vividly capture the scenes in English and in Spanish: "Watch as the famous number 10 flips the soccer ball.... Pelé runs across the field like a cheetah, dribbling like a dancer." The page turns, el rey scores the goal, and the next page flashes back to his impoverished childhood, describing how he and his friends used whatever materials were at hand to play "the beautiful game." Brown also imagines dialogue between young Pelé and his father to illustrate how the player's love of family and country drove him to excel on the field. The direct prose effectively tells the soccer hero's story, but Gutiérrez's illustrations give the book an exciting burst of energy. Bold, wavy lines across the pages convey the vigor and panache of World Cup soccer. Text and pictures collaborate seamlessly on the final spread, which marks one of Pelé's greatest achievements. VERDICT The bright, energetic illustrations and subject matter will make this a popular choice with children.—Mary Landrum, Lexington Public Library, KY

DOEDEN, Matt. The World Cup: Soccer’s Global Championship. 64p. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Millbrook. Jan. 2018. Tr $33.32. ISBN 9781512427554. Gr 4-7–Internationally, the World Cup is the most widely viewed sports event, with a viewing audience surpassing that of the Super Bowl and the Olympics. From modest beginnings in 1930, soccer’s biggest competition has soared in popularity. Doeden has scored a winning goal with this insightful look at the game’s prestigious championship event. Like his earlier book The Super Bowl, this latest is well researched. He discusses the history, appeal, and format of this event, as well as some fundamentals of the game. The chapter on heroics and heartbreaks of past World Cups is quite lengthy and may not resonate well with readers who are not dedicated fans. Men’s and women’s soccer are covered. True to his engaging style of writing, he presents information with abundant use of appealing photographs and charts. In addition, he addresses in an objective manner controversial issues that have marred the reputation of the sport, most notably the 2015 scandal that rocked the governing body of international soccer. VERDICT Once again, Doeden has demonstrated his sharp skills as a sportswriter. It should not be hard to entice sports fans with this title.–Jeanette Lambert, formerly at Nashville-Davidson County Schools

DOWNING, Erin. For Soccer-Crazy Girls Only. 160p. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781250047090.
Gr 3–6–This upbeat, enthusiastic treatise on everything soccer is aimed primarily at girls and written by an obvious fan of the sport. The text is organized into short vignettes with chapter titles such as "Becoming the Best," "Getting Ready for the Game," "On the Field: Let's Play," and "Play Safe: Preventing Injuries on the Pitch." Each piece is about a page long, with bright two-color computer graphics in black and vibrant green. Full of factoids and anecdotes, this book will appeal to girls with little time to pore over a heavy text. In addition to game rules and strategies, the title also shares material on how much money players earn, stories of inspirational teams, and an extensive listing of prominent players, male and female. While the graphics are attention grabbing, the two-color theme muddles the black-and-white photographs, making some unappealing. Profiles of several players, male and female, as well as a series of lists finishes out the text, with several pages for readers to add their own notes. The style of text and simple graphics will appeal to the younger middle school or upper elementary readers, as will the straightforward instructional information; older readers will find it more entertaining than enlightening. A good gift for young fans.—Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OH

FERGUS, Maureen. The Day Dad Joined My Soccer Team. illus by Mike Lowery. 32p. Kids Can. Apr. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1771386548. K-Gr 2–An unnamed kid in the number four jersey loves playing soccer as much as his dad, in his "Soccer Dad" T-shirt, loves cheering him on. When Coach needs a parent volunteer, Dad is already on the field before he can be told that his help is needed with halftime snacks, not playing. Despite the boy's advice, Dad is soon embarrassing his son by goofing off, not encouraging his teammates, having a hissy fit after being accidentally tripped, and being an all-around poor sport. The boy laments to Coach that his Dad is ruining the game for everyone, but Coach responds with this: "If we're patient and keep showing him what it means to be a team player. I am sure he'll figure it out."And Coach is right; Dad ends up playing a great game. Fergus's first-person text is spot-on and immediately makes readers feel invested in the story's outcome. Lowery's illustrations are spare yet action-packed and display a wide range of emotions. They are a great combination. VERDICT A fun and engaging role-reversal read-aloud about how to be a good sport. Purchase as needed.—Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH

JOKÜLSSON, Illugi. Messi, Neymar, and Suarez: the Barcelona Trio. 64p. (World Soccer Legends). photos. Abbeville. 2016. $13.95. ISBN 9780789212849.
Gr 2–5–A biographical overview of three internationally recognized soccer stars: Lionel Messi, Neymar da Silva Santos, and Luis Suárez, collectively known as MSN or the Barcelona Trio. The content mainly focuses on their 2015–16 season but does cover each player's early life, introduction to soccer, and road to fame. Quick but detailed descriptions are given of the highs and lows of the athletes' careers, from Messi's instant stardom to Suárez's controversial incidents to Neymar's ever-changing hairstyle. Fellow teammates and coaches are also discussed along with the players' home countries of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. Charts highlight their heights, the number of goals they scored, and more. VERDICT Consider this slim but informative volume wherever soccer fans are found.—Emily Bayci, Naperville Public Library-Naper Boulevard Library, IL

JOKÜLSSON, Illugi. World Cup 2018: The Teams, the Stars, the Stories. 64p. (World Soccer Legends). photos. Abbeville. May. 2018. $14.95. ISBN 9780789213020.
Gr 5 Up—As the title implies, this book gives an overview of the 2018 tournament in Russia, which teams are playing and the players who will probably be out on the field, as well as listing the different venues where the games will be played. There are also chapters about "The Russian Team," "World Cup Records," and extensive coverage of some of the stars such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Paul Pogba. The author also profiles who might win and who's new to the World Cup scene. A four-page spread features the U.S. lineup, though the team didn't make it into the tournament because of a loss to Trinidad and Tobago in the qualifying rounds. There is also a comprehensive list of the history of all the final matches (including some of the historical controversies that inevitably follow), as well as pages at the end that indicate when the first round matches will be played and a place to write in the knockout stages, quarterfinals, semifinals, and the finals. Soccer fans are bound to be intrigued and engaged by the short amounts of text; the big, clear photos; and the punchy graphics, but this one is going to have a short shelf life. VERDICT An optional purchase due to its short shelf life; consider only where there is high interest in the 2018 World Cup.—Debbie Tanner, S.D Spady Montessori Elementary, Delray Beach, FL.

KILLION, Ann. Champions of Women’s Soccer. 272p. index. photos. Philomel. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399549014.
Gr 4 Up–Relive the most exciting moments in women’s soccer in this in-depth collective biography of the sport’s biggest stars. After an enthusiastic ode to the sport in the “Pregame” chapter, Killion relays the career highlights of 11 U.S. players for the “First Half.” Providing only minimal information about each player’s personal life and background, the focus is instead on achievements on the field. She goes on to profile 11 international players for the “Second Half.” “Halftime” is dedicated to a history of women playing soccer and the impact the 1972 passing of Title IX had on women’s athletic teams. Remaining sections cover top 10 lists of the best goals, the best events, the biggest upsets, and the biggest saves. A small section of photographs is appended, and a concluding section profiles the next generation of star players. While this text provides plenty of exciting statistics and blow-by-blow retellings of great moments in soccer history, it is not for the casual sports enthusiast. Killion knows the game and its history and writes for an audience already familiar with and fond of the sport. The focus on women athletes represents a much-needed perspective in sports books for tweens and will be a welcome addition. VERDICT A practical purchase for collections where soccer and sports books are in demand and books about women in sports are lacking.–Kristy Pasquariello, Wellesley Free Library, MA

LLOYD, Carli with Wayne Coffey. All Heart: My Dedication and Determination To Become One of Soccer’s Best. 304p. index. HMH. Dec. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544978690. Gr 5-8–This young readers edition of Lloyd’s adult title, When Nobody Was Watching, details her life as a professional soccer player. Beginning with her childhood experiences on community club teams, Lloyd provides a comprehensive chronicle of her athletic perseverance: using rejection to work harder, coping with disappointment, overcoming obstacles, and relishing the hard-earned professional and personal achievements that come with such dedication. This commitment is evident from Lloyd’s time in college through later years when she pursued Olympic and World Cup glory. With simple sentence structure and a straightforward narrative, this book is appropriately designed for its audience. It predominantly focuses on a play-by-play of the many tryouts, teams, practices, and games of Lloyd’s career, with brief glimpses of the politics behind the game and rare details of her personal life. The prose is replete with soccer terms and jargon, which may make the narrative more difficult for readers less familiar with the sport. Still, the central themes of hard work, diligence, ambition, and tenacity make Lloyd’s story an inspiration for all readers, especially tweens looking for strong role models. VERDICT Purchase where avid soccer fans seek motivational accounts of favorite players.–Paige Rowse, Needham High School, MA

OLDFIELD, Matt and Tom Oldfield. Steven Gerrard: Captain Fantastic. 172p. Dino/John Blake. 2017. $12.99 pap. ISBN 978-1786062192.
Gr 3–7–A narrative biography of arguably one of Liverpool's greatest soccer players, who wore the Liverpool FC jersey for 17 seasons and ended his career playing for the L.A. Galaxy in the United States. Steven Gerrard was a natural at the sport from childhood and was scouted early on by a Liverpool youth coach. Coming from a long line of Liverpool FC fans, Gerrard grew up around the sport, playing matches with his brothers' older friends at the neighborhood fields. When Gerrard's young cousin was one of the many who perished at the Hillsborough disaster (a deadly incident at a soccer stadium in England), "Stevie" knew that he had to become a Liverpool hero in memory of his cousin, which is just what he did. The authors chronicle Gerrard's on-field professional life from his humble beginnings through his early years and into his retirement. Although Briticisms are used, readers who are soccer fanatics will get past that easily. VERDICT A great Matt Christopher or Mike Lupica read-a-like, especially for libraries with a big soccer fan base.—Joanne Albano, Commack Public Library, NY

PAUL, Baptiste. The Field. illus. by Jacqueline Alcántara. 32p. glossary. North South. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780735843127.
K-Gr 3–An open field in a lush Caribbean setting calls to a group of children. They chase away grazing animals, bring out the soccer ball and goals, and begin a spirited game of soccer. Rain and a muddy, slippery field cannot stop their game; only the repeated calls from the mamas and a setting sun can. Dirty but satisfied, the children return home for baths and bed, knowing that the field will call again for another rousing game. Illustrations in deep, saturated colors with energetic lines accompany a spare but rhythmic English text, sprinkled with Creole. The narrative and images evoke the islands and the joy of playing a game regardless of weather. In a concluding note, Paul recalls his native Saint Lucia where, he explains, Creole is spoken but is rarely written down. A brief glossary is included, though most of the words will be understandable in context and in the animated paintings. ­VERDICT This engaging book is sure to resonate with children who are passionate about soccer and even those who simply enjoy lively play.—Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library

PUCK. Totally Epic, True and Wacky Soccer Facts and Stories. illus by John Stollberg. 156 pp. duopress/dist. by Workman. 2017. $12.95 pap. 978-1-938093-81-4. ebook 978-1-938093-82-1.
Gr 2–4–Using bold graphics, short sentences, and fun facts, this is a quick read for soccer superfans. Kids will learn about the sport's wackiest moments, famous firsts, records, superstitions, terms, and more. The goofy moments, including their impact on soccer history, will surprise lovers of the sport. The engaging and humorous tone keeps up the momentum, driving the work. However, there is a noticeable lack of female soccer stars mentioned. In addition, the visuals can be taxing on the eyes. VERDICT Consider for collections with a large soccer following.—Emily Bayci, Naperville Public Library, IL

SEIGERMAN, David. Becky Sauerbrunn. 116p. Aladdin. 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781481482172. $7.99 pap. ISBN 97814814821657.
Gr 4–7–In soccer, Rebecca "Becky" Sauerbrunn is known for her superb accomplishments, physical ability, and fierce determination. Born in 1985, she grew up in a St. Louis suburb as the youngest child and only daughter in her family. Her stamina in sports can be traced back to life with two older brothers whose playful antics did not deter her one bit. In elementary school, she was often the only girl on the soccer team. As she became older, she distinguished herself in awesome ways and made indelible impressions on her various coaches. Her passion for soccer and learning was remarkable. The author, a former sports journalist, does a commendable job in describing this athlete. The writing is engaging and presents a balanced viewpoint—Seigerman does point out areas where Sauerbrunn fell short. He elaborates on contributions Sauerbrunn is making to the future of women's soccer, particularly her involvement in the 2016 complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding wage inequity among women's and men's national soccer teams. VERDICT An insightful biography of a leading soccer star, and an easy addition to middle grade nonfiction collections.—Jeanette Lambert, formerly at Nashville-Davidson County Schools

SIMON, Eddy. Pelé the King of Soccer. illus. by Vincent Brascaglia. 144p. First Second. 2017.Tr . $19.99. ISBN 978-1-62672-979-7;  pap. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-62672-755-7. ebook.$9.99 ISBN 978-1-250-19459-6.
Gr 7 Up–Pelé, widely known as the greatest soccer player of all time, was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, a wiry little village boy from Brazil. With his lightning-speed knack for dribbling and shooting, he quickly ran out of children to play with—but his father, a former professional player, encouraged his son to embrace the game. Pelé earned his nickname as he became a professional soccer player at 15 and won a spot on the national team only a year later. He was dubbed "O Rei" (or "king"), helped Brazil win three FIFA World Cups, and became the all-time leading goal scorer in the history of Brazilian soccer. Simon acknowledges that Pelé's life isn't all awards and international fame—the graphic novel covers corrupt sports officials, an authoritarian dictatorship that tries to control Pelé as its national treasure, and family strife. However, the focus is on Pelé's tremendous impact on soccer internationally and his efforts to improve social conditions in his homeland. The book's linear trajectory is easy to follow, though it spans many years and the political intrigues hint at a much more complicated backstory. Readers who aren't sports fans may find the play-by-play tedious at times, but the dialogue never becomes too technical. The artwork is active and graceful—occasionally frenetic, depicting what Pelé called "the beautiful game." VERDICT A great addition for graphic novel collections and a good way to attract reluctant readers.—Michael Marie Jacobs, Darlington School, GA

TAYLOR, Sean. Goal! photos by Caio Vilela. 40p. Holt. 2014. Tr $17.99. 9781627791236.
Gr 1–4–Eye-catching photographs and straightforward text introduce soccer and showcase the accessibility and universality of the sport. The opening endpaper—a close-up image of well-worn soccer balls stowed in a net bag—sets the tone, conveying that this book is about real kids who play a much-loved game. Displayed on handsomely designed spreads, Vilela's vivid images capture the exuberance of young footballers representing an assortment of countries and cultures. For instance, a Brazilian boy performs a perfectly timed header, a smiling youngster dribbles in a field near England's Stonehenge, a teen sporting flip flops juggles a ball in Ghana, and two kids vie for ball possession in the streets of Iran. Photos of Tanzanian children playing with a sphere cleverly fashioned from wire and rags or barefoot youngsters in India kicking a ball in a dusty spot beneath a tree emphasize the fact soccer that can be enjoyed almost anywhere and does not require expensive equipment. Boxed soccer facts about each country are included, and an outline map showing their locations is appended. A rousing celebration of global diversity and the game that unites us all.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal

Other Titles of Interest:

Billioud, Jean-Michel. Soccer Stars: 40 Inspiring Icons. illus by Almasty. 88p. Wide Eyed Editions. May 2018. Tr $14.99. 9781786031426.
Crisfield, Deborah W. The Everything Kids' Soccer Book: Rules, Techniques, and More About Your Favorite Sport! 144p. Adams Media. 2015. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781440586880. Doeden, Matt. Cristiano Ronaldo. 32p. photos. notes. glossary. further information. index. (Sports All-Stars). Lerner . 2017. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781512431193
Hoena, Blake. National Geographic Everything Soccer: Score Tons of Photos, Facts, and Fun. 64p. photos. National Geographic. 2014. pap. $12.99. 9781426317132.
Javaherbin, Mina. Goal. illus. by A. G. Ford. 40p. Candlewick. 2012. pap. $6.99. 9780763658229.
Jökulsson,Illugi. Stars of All Time: World Soccer. 64p. (World Soccer Legends). Abbeville. Tr  2017. $13.95. ISBN 978-0789212955
Messi, Superstar: His Records, His Life, His Epic Awesomeness. 140p. duopress. 2016. pap. $14.99 pap. 9781938093579.
Morgan, Alex. Breakaway: Beyond the Goal. 320p. S. & S. 2017. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781481451086.
Stewart, Mark and Mike Kennedy. Goal!: The Fire and Fury of Soccer's Fastest Play. 64p. photos. Lerner. 2010. $33.32. ISBN 9780822587545.
Wambach, Abby. Forward: My Story. Young Readers' Edition. 224p. HarperCollins. 2017. pap. $6.99. 9780062457936.
Whiting, Jim. AC Milan. 48p. photos. (Soccer Champions). Creative Company. 2016. pap. $12.00. ISBN. 1628321951.
Yomtov, Nel. Being Your Best at Soccer. 48p. photos. (A True Book Sports and Entertainment). Scholastic. 2016. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780531236123.
Zweig, Eric and Mark Geiger. Absolute Expert: Soccer. 112p. photos. National Geographic. May 2018. $14.99. ISBN 9781426330087. Be sure to look for the other titles in Creative Company's "Soccer Champions" and Abbeville's "World Soccer Legends," series.

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Lydia Breiseth

Thank you! Here are some additional bilingual & multicultural soccer titles shared by Colorin Colorado:

Posted : May 11, 2018 11:59


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