29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2010
I am a father of two children-- a son and a daughter ages 8 and 11. I am also an educator, dealing with children of all ages. I came upon the WildSoccer Bunch book series, book #1 (Kevin the Star Striker), and immediately knew I had found something special. I introduced the book to my kids, and to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. They simply couldn't put the book down. My kids actually stayed up extra late(way passed their bedtime) so that they could finish the book! I have passed the book along to my colleagues at school, and many parents have responded by asking where they could find the next book in the series.
What makes the WildSoccer series so special are the books' themes: team sports, diversity, friendship-- even if your child is not a soccer fan, he/she will love the characters and the storylines. I am not surprised that the author, Joachim Massanek, is a huge success overseas-- the WildSoccer series has already sold millions of copies in Europe!
The Wild Soccer Bunch is funny and it's a light read, but the book will challenge your kids too. My kids can't wait for the next book in the series to come out. My daughter has asked me to signed her up for soccer-- we can't wait!
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2011
The Wild Soccer Bunch, Book 1, Kevin the Star Striker
This is an energetic book full of kids who love soccer. However, the thing I don't like about it is the fact that all the kids are rude, disrespectful, and bold-faced liars. All they want to do is play soccer, and they treat their parents as idiots. I'm not even a parent, but a teacher. I bought this book for my class, but I will not buy the next one. I don't want my students reading this. I wish I could get a refund, and I'm disappointed as soccer and LA Galaxy fan that Landon Donovan has endorsed this book.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
I was sent a review copy of this book. I am no longer a child, I have no kids, and I do not play or watch soccer at all. Yet, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I think this is mainly due to the fact that the writing has a child-like flair, or mindset if you will that is just fun and easy to read. It just feels natural; you could easily imagine a 10 year-old boy saying this stuff. The sentences are often rather stilted, just a few short words, and there are often a lot of these in a row. It just really comes off as the way children often speak, it made the kids feel authentic in a way.
The main premise of the book is that the `Wild Bunch' is a group of boys that just love to play soccer, it's their entire world. The main kid in this book is Kevin, and his brother and their friends make up the `Wild Bunch' team. I could tell you all their names and introduce them to you, but that would ruin the first chapter for you, which does it in a real fun way. They want to play soccer all spring break, but they have a real challenge getting past their parents and battling with the fact that winter won't quite let go. When they finally do manage to get to the field, they're beaten to the punch by `the Unbeatables', a group of older boys who are a lot bigger and a lot tougher. They make a bet that they'll all meet back at the end of two weeks, and whichever team wins get's the field for their own from then on out. Now they need to practice up for the big game, but will it be enough time for them to get good enough to win?
It's very well paced and never gets dull or tiresome, and it's written quite simply, but it never reaches the point of talking down to its key audience.
Something that was a nice surprise were the illustrations by Jan Birck. There's one or two on nearly every other page, and they're very simple and charming. The facial expressions are great, and the posing of the characters is rather cartoony yet still comes across as believable, it adds a lot to the book.
Now, before I end this review, let me say that this is not a book for overly-sensitive PC parents. The coach they get drinks sometimes and one mild curse word is uttered. The boys are also rather dishonest on occasion to their parents. These things happen in life and they are not portrayed as positive things, so please, do not buy this book and then give it a scathing 1 Star review. Just don't buy this book if you think everything should be sunshine and roses for your kid until they're a teenager.
The real message in this book is about teamwork, friendship, perseverance and all that jazz. I'm sure kids will love the book, especially if they are into soccer. But be warned, this is the first book in a series of 13, so if you're kid likes this one, they'll most likely want to read the rest. Although, you may not mind yourself actually, definitely recommended!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
THE WILD SOCCER BUNCH is already becoming an international favorite group of kids and this first edition in this country - Kevin the Star Striker - demonstrates why. Not only does this book, which originated in Germany, hit a note of alignment with a team sport already well established as a favorite throughout the world, it also manages to tell stories that are imaginative and hugely entertaining. Author Joachim Mesannek states that his mission is to encourage children worldwide to live by their values they learn by playing the game of soccer: courage, teamwork, and friendship. His writing accomplishes that goal. He is aided by the intricate and well conceived illustrations by Jan Brick.
Reading the book will involve kids and parents alike - the writing is that good. But the author's goal is far greater than entertainment. He succeeds in motivating kids to get involved on team sports, wins them over to sportsmanship, teamwork, leadership, self acceptance, and the joy of the game. The writing is infectious and bodes well for a continuing series by this talented duo of Messanek and Brick. Grady Harp, August 10
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2011
I purchased this book for my son for Christmas for a couple reasons... One because he loves soccer and two because he hates to read.. Trying to kill 2 birds with one stone here and hoping he would read - IT worked! He was done with this book in a matter of a few days. Now he is eagerly anticipating the release of book 2.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Nine year old Kevin and the rest of the Wild Bunch soccer team can't wait for April vacation - they plan on doing nothing but play soccer for two weeks. But things don't go as they planned: the weather won't cooperate; some of the boys are grounded; and a bunch of bullies (The Unbeatables) have taken over their favorite soccer field. Kevin and his friends are determined to win back their soccer field but the Unbeatables have that nickname for a very good reason.
First published in Germany, "The Wild Soccer Bunch, Kevin the Star Striker" is a very good, very timely, book for children about children who love soccer. Author Joachim Masannek does an excellent job of capturing just how much the boys love soccer and the lengths they'll go to play (for better or worse). For some, this love is not easy and the book is at times both sad (Joey's story is heartbreaking) and at other times laugh out loud funny (Diego's attempts to fool his mother into thinking he doesn't have a fever). What makes this book stand out is that while it is fiction it features very real boys with very real problems. While Joey's story is the saddest, several of the other boys have problems with their parents and bullies. For the most part the book is written in the first person from Kevin's point of view and he too is very real - mostly nice, but devoted to soccer to the point he sometime says and does hurtful things to his friends, and more than a bit selfish when it comes to sharing the soccer ball during games. The bullies are scary, but a bit stereotypical. Adding to the realism is Larry, their "coach", who shows that even adults have problems and flaws. The soccer game and other soccer aspects are very nicely done.
Because of some of the themes in the book (namely Joey and Larry's storylines as well as the bullying) parents may want to read the book first to see if their child is old enough to handle the themes. This also gives them a good chance to discuss the book with their child after he/she has read it since there are several things to talk about: soccer; the children's actions; Kevin's selfishness on the soccer field; the bravery of the children; bullying; Larry's drinking; Joey's mother; and more.
"The Wild Soccer Bunch, Kevin the Star Striker" is a good book for readers young and old.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2010
From the opening chapter of the book, you are captivated by the love that the kids each have for the sport of Soccer. The Wild Soccer Bunch demonstrates the triumphs and enjoyments of being kid and playing your favorite activity. The book transcends the sport of soccer and allows the reader to step into the shoes of adolescent conquering the daily challenges of youth. I have two children, a daughter age 7 and and a son age 5, they are very opposite in their likes and dislikes. My daughter does not even like soccer, while my son is an avid sports enthusiast, and they both sat riveted while engrossed in the Wild Soccer Bunch. I highly recommend the Wild Soccer Bunch, it is an enjoyable and fun read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the few kids' books that I can wholeheartedly endorse for a boy. The book itself is nominally about soccer, but it really takes the reader and transports them to a different world - one where kids are at the center and the rest revolves around them. The characters are exaggerated in accordance with how a child would likely view the world, of course, so that the good ones are really good, the bad ones really bad. Everything that's going on in the book assumes an out-sized importance, just like a child's view.
In that way, the book appears well-positioned to captivate a child who's reading it - the book speaks a child's language, looks at the world through a child's eyes. I've read plenty of children's books at this point, and this book is one of the few that really accomplishes that feat.
The result is simple - my son has a hard time putting it down. Period. And given that he doesn't usually like to read, and he can't stand some of the books that are assigned to him in school, that's quite an accomplishment.
I would further note that although this book was originally written in German, to German kids, it has been seemlessly adapted to an American audience. It reads as if originally written in English, and it's set in Chicago.
Another nice aspect of the book is that it definitely encourages activity - via soccer, of course, but I think that kids who play other sports might be inspired as well.
The only concern I might have would be for younger girls - this is really a boy-oriented book, as a whole. If you are considering getting a book for a 9 year old (or maybe younger) boy, then you can't go wrong with this, especially if he's a soccer player. For girls, I think it's more of a judgment call.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2010
Kevin, the star striker, grabs your attention immediately with his action packed description of each member of the Wild Soccer Bunch. The action continues with down to earth dialogue as we experience their passionate love and devotion to the game of soccer. With the birth of spring, each unique personality must overcome many obstacles just to get to the soccer field.
When they finally manage to get to the field, they find themselves surrounded by Mickey the bulldozer and his gang, the Unbeatables. This older, bigger, and meaner gang has taken over the field.
Kevin explains, "He (Mickey the bulldozer) stomped across the wet field; his every step turned the muddy water into steam. The ground shook. So did his flabby paunch. But underneath all that fat were iron muscles and a black heart."
Instead of running, the Wild Bunch stands their ground and challenges the Unbeatables to the most important game of their lives. The winner takes back the field.
When they turn to Larry, the alcoholic lemonade guy and ask for help, they are in for a few surprises. The Wild Bunch learns many life lessons about teamwork and perseverance from their new coach. Their struggles and hard work also improve their soccer skills. With some unexpected twists and turns in the story, you'll wonder until the end if this bunch has the stuff to win.
As a retired teacher, who has taught many reluctant readers, I highly recommend this inspiring book. The fast paced action and gritty dialogue that flows through every chapter will captivate boys everywhere. Readers will find themselves rooting for these average boys who become super heroes by their sheer determination to win.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2010
I love it. I just love it. The Wild Bunch is a group of 11 friends who love soccer. The camaraderie of this Bunch is interesting to me. It has all the classic ups and downs of what a die-hard friendship sometimes has. The author's creativity to make this type of scene, in my point of view, is fantastic. It also has a character that plays the Bully role, and has all the significant qualities of a bully, too. I also love his little "posse", that has all sorts of different types of characters. This is a great series starter, and I look forward to seeing the next books in the series.