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Keeper Paperback – February 13, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–When acclaimed South American journalist Paul Faustino begins his interview with World Cup soccer star El Gato, he expects to be recording the thoughts of a goalkeeper at the height of his career. He never envisioned hearing about a young, lonely boy growing up in the middle of a rain forest, who wandered upon a mysterious soccer field and an apparition that appeared to him daily and trained him to become the greatest goalkeeper ever known. Is El Gato mad? Is he suffering from hallucinations due to the stress of the game? Is there some truth to be discovered in his fantastic tale? Only at the conclusion of the interview and the resolution of who the Keeper really is and what he is waiting for will readers even think of putting down this fascinating book. Peet achieves his expressed desire to write an entirely new kind of soccer story, not only including the experience of play, but also mesmerizing readers with a supernatural mystery in a tale about relationships, loneliness, and believing in oneself. This is a well-written, fast-paced sports story that addresses far more than just the sport itself. Fans of Chris Crutcher's sports-themed novels will want to pick up this selection by a new and talented writer.–Kathryn Childs, Morris Mid/High School, OK
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. Published originally in the United Kingdom, this unusual novel won the 2004 Branford Boase Award and was short-listed for the Nestle Children's Book Prize. Framed as an interview between a South American sports reporter and the world's best soccer goalkeeper, the now 30-year-old "El Gato" relates how he developed his skills, achieved great fame, and won the coveted World Cup. His story is one of poverty and isolation in a small logging community, of strong family ties in a beloved jungle being inexorably denuded, and of intense focus on the game of soccer. If a coming-of-age tale meeting an environmental message framed by sports narrative weren't enough, a mystical element is added, as El Gato describes his rigorous soccer training by a ghost in a magical clearing hewn from dense foliage. El Gato's remembrances do not consistently take the reader with him, and disparate elements don't always gel. Rich depictions of family and forest are marred by stilted, implausible dialog and choppy transitions between present and past. With its lengthy descriptions of the game, this may appeal most to soccer fans. Holly Koelling
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (February 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763632864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763632861
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alan Gratz on March 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
On the surface, Keeper is a soccer story. Goalie extraordinaire El Gato sits in a small hotel room recounting not only how he's just won the World Cup, but also how he came to be the keeper he is today.

What follows though is a story filled with mystery and magic - yes, magic. We learn that as a boy, El Gato discovered a ghostly presence in the jungle outside his small South American village, a ghost that taunt him with almost desperate authority how to be the best goalie (keeper) in the world. It's an odd premise, but the story unfolds in startling and endearing ways, eventually encompassing issues as big as deforestation and as small as leaving family and home for good.

For me, this is the ultimate kind of sports book. It escapes the cookie-cutter realm of "team is disorganized, team becomes organized, team overcomes odds to win big game." Even winning the World Cup isn't so important that we have to re-live every moment of the "big game." It's the consequences of the game, and the keeper's development as a person and a goalie, that are far more important in the long run.

By focusing on the boy and the greater issues he resolves through his keeping skills, this story transcends its own genre. It's a fantastic book to put in the hands of any boy who's ever played youth soccer, or just any boy who ever sought his place in the world on a playing field.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sarina Singh on February 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my nephew who loves soccer. The cover was so interesting that I had to read it myself before giving it to him. This is a gripping story of a boy who starts off playing soccer in a remote logging camp in the middle of the Amazon jungle and his rise to become one of the greatest goal keepers in the world and a hero in the World Cup.

Peet weaves magic and mystery into a story that avoids most stereotypes typical of the genre. This book also has a strong environmentalist message that shoudl appeal to many children.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Justin on November 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. Peet is phenomenal when it comes to bringing things to life with this novel. I found myself actually getting goose bumps from this book. Truly a good read, I highly recommend to anyone.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By The Keeper on May 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
wow!!! what an amazing book!! I just can't put this book down!! I got this book yesterday and I have not put it down since, this is without a doubt the BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ!!! wow!!! This is an amazing book!! I would recomend to buy it!! This was required for my school, but if I had not ever heard of this and had to buy it, I would have thought it was nothing!! I recomend this for all young adults like middle schoolers 6-8 and also it could be just a fun book to read for adults too!! BUY THIS BOOK!!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James on August 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As you can probably tell from the cover art, this book is about soccer. But don't let that turn you off (no offense, soccer players). Keeper is about so much more than just a sport...it is a gripping story that will keep you longing for more. Mal Peet has an amazing ability to put into words the undescribable. I don't particularly like soccer, but I found myself caught up in his outstanding play-by-play. If I was a reviwer at a well known newspaper, I would have no choice but to be cliche and be quoted that this book is "the summmer's must read!" Seriously though, read this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The book I read was Keeper by Mal Peet.

I highly recommend this book if you like sports and non fiction books, and you don't just have to like soccer to read this book. The book Keeper is not just all about soccer, there is so much more to the book that will make u fall in love with it, and not want to put it down. One of the things I liked most about this book is because it goes into great depth and detail. The author makes you feel like you're inside the story, and with all of the characters.

My favorite character in this book is Gato. Gato Is not only a character, but is on of my many ideals. I can relate to him because he once was a goalkeeper just like me.

This story is about Gato at his younge ages, not liking soccer that much and not being so great at it either. As Gato comes across some unusual things his mind just mite change! You get to see the story of Gato and who he once was and how he became who he is today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ken C. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
Mal Peet's KEEPER is just that -- an unusual sports story worth keeping because it could hold up to a second reading. If you love soccer (and especially if you are interested in the metaphysics of playing goal), read no more and put this in your cart.

Fans of "magical realism" should give this a look-see, too. It's not often that the YA field gets the "Gabriel Garcia Marquez treatment," after all. Here we have a Brazilian lad who wanders into the rain forest, finds an inexplicable clearing with a soccer field and goalposts, then gets visited by this ghostly apparition that mentors him in the art of playing goal. Unusual isn't the word for it.

That said, the plot device of using an interview (Paul Faustino is the journalist) to tell the story bogs the book down a bit -- especially at the beginning when most young readers are lost. Patience will be rewarded, however. This is an intelligent little book that chronicles the making of a World Cup caliber goalie (El Gato, or "The Cat") from Brazil, and in addition to the other-worldly element (just who or what IS that "keeper" in the jungle?), you get some pretty good action sequences of soccer games, too.

If you buy it, stick with it. Patience will be rewarded.
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