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The Soccer Fence: A story of friendship, hope, and apartheid in South Africa Hardcover – March 13, 2014


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The Soccer Fence: A story of friendship, hope, and apartheid in South Africa + Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (March 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399247904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399247903
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 0.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #481,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 1–3—Apartheid has ended in South Africa, but a young boy learns that change takes time in this story of friendship and of a nation healing. Hector plays soccer with his sister in the barren field in his township in Johannesburg. What he really wants is to play with the white boys on the lush green field he sees when his mother takes him to the other part of the city where she works, but they never acknowledge the black boy. Newspaper headlines give a history of South Africa from the announcement that apartheid is over to President Mandela being elected (with Hector's family allowed to vote) to South Africa's hosting the 1996 African Cup of Nations. Each historic step is paralleled by the boys' soccer games in their individual neighborhoods as they root for their South African team, Bafana Bafana, throughout the tournament. When their team makes the finals, both boys attend the game and recognize each other from years of watching from the other side of the fence and raise fists in acknowledgement as they lead the procession of cheering fans in a symbolic uniting of a divided country. Bright acrylic paints and broad pencil strokes bring the characters to life while Bildner's first-person narrative personalizes Hector's childhood during these momentous events. Historical notes provide more detail in this effective introduction to apartheid and Nelson Mandela in a tender tribute to which young readers will be able to relate.—Kristine M. Casper, Huntington Public Library, NY

From Booklist

Hector tells of apartheid’s gradual breakdown, which happened while he was growing up in South Africa. As a young black boy, he watches white boys playing soccer, but they ignore his request to join their game. Years pass and changes come. After the first open election, Nelson Mandela becomes president. Later, South Africa hosts a soccer tournament and wins with an integrated team. And, at long last, a white boy invites Hector to play soccer with him. Bildner overcomes some of the problems inherent in a picture book with a time frame extending over several years. Roughly four years old in the opening scenes, Hector is in his early teens at the end, but the illustrations convincingly portray the boys as they grow up, while the narrative thread connecting the story’s events is strong. Combining pencil drawings and acrylics, the illustrations are colorful and expressive. An appended apartheid timeline, aimed at a much older audience, briefly discusses significant events. This unusual picture bookshows social change as it affects one boy. Grades 1-3. --Carolyn Phelan

More About the Author

I am Phil.

I used to be a middle school teacher in the New York City Public Schools. Now I write books for kids. I get to travel around the country in order to visit schools and talk to students about my books and writing. How lucky can one person be?

I live in Brooklyn, New York in a killer loft in Clinton Hill. Before Brooklyn, I lived in Manhattan for over a decade, mostly in the West Village. And before that, I grew up on Long Island (but I like to keep that on the dl).

I mos def like to have a good time. I'm incredibly active. I'm a gym-junkie. I like to go running and do pretty much anything outdoors. I used to play hoops 24/7, but unfortunately, the legs don't allow me to do the things I was once able to do.

I live with my boyfriend of fourteen years. He likes to have almost as much fun as I do. Like me, he's a big kid. I've never met anyone so genuine and so real in my entire life. He has the kindest heart and the most gentle soul. He's beautiful, expressive and a freakin' riot.

Welcome to my world!

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bookseller on November 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book is a story of prejudice and apartheid written for an audience of 8-12 year olds. Through the experiences of two young boys of different races who just want to play soccer together, Bildner illustrates the destructive nature of apartheid. Ultimately, The Soccer Fence is a story of friendship and of hope.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MaryAnn O. on July 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This could have been a great story. I loved the theme and illustrations. The content was too complex for a kid to enjoy.
It made for a boring read for my 5 year old - and I I was so looking forward t it being a good book with a good message.
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