Building a Dream: How the Boys of Koh Panyee Became Champions

Eerdmans. Sept. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780802855473.
Gr 2-4–In Koh Panyee, a village on stilts in Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay, a group of boys shares a love for football (soccer in the U.S.). Playing football in a floating village is nigh impossible. Even as the whole village makes fun of them, the boys build a floating soccer pitch. With practice, they’re able to compete in a real tournament on dry land. Only after witnessing their success do the boys’ families and neighbors stop ridiculing them. Based on a true story, this is a charming if wordy tale of perseverance. Many pages feature multiple sentences or paragraphs spread across the page. Dialogue, ellipses, italics, and words in all uppercase create a complex reading experience for an otherwise simple story. The digital artwork is colorful but lacks depth. Characters are flat and there is no discernible light source in most illustrations. Bodies sometimes feature elongated limbs and awkward poses that make football scenes feel static. However, the scenes depicted enrich the text by providing readers with more information. Backgrounds are colorful and attractive. Back matter includes notes from the author and illustrator.
VERDICT Recommended only for large collections.

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