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Goal! Hardcover – April 13, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Arriving in time for the 2010 World Cup, this heart-tugging picture book from a debut author tells a lyrical soccer story in the voice of a young boy in a South African shantytown. After winning a federation-size “football” at school, the narrator and his friends enjoy a game, but bullies interrupt them. With some deft foot maneuvers, though, the young players deter the aggressors and resume their game, this time with a wary lookout: “The streets are not always safe.” The poetic text’s rhythmic repetition emphasizes the boys’ joyful empowerment: “When we play, / we forget to worry. / When we run, / we are not afraid.” In full-page oil paintings, Ford uses unusual angles to intensify the sense of the scuffling, exciting action; the tense confrontation; and the reality of shantytown life. An afterword includes fascinating historical notes and reinforces the narrator’s moving message about soccer’s power to inspire and connect fans and players around the world: “I follow the ball to the end of the alley; / I follow the ball to the end of the world.” Grades K-3. --Gillian Engberg

About the Author

Mina Javaherbin was born in Iran and immigrated to the United States, where she is now a practicing architect. She lives in Southern California. This is her first picture book.

A. G. Ford is the illustrator of the New York Times bestseller BARACK by Jonah Winter and MICHELLE by Deborah Hopkinson. He also contributed to OUR CHILDREN CAN SOAR: A CELEBRATION OF ROSA, BARACK, AND THE PIONEERS OF CHANGE by Michelle Cook. He lives in The Colony, Texas.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 350L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List 2011-2012
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763645710
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763645717
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.4 x 11.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #622,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ajani finished his homework, but still had to fetch water from the well. He had a slight smile on his face as he looked out in the neighborhood as he thought about calling for his friends. He had two buckets in his hands, one of which held his precious "new federation-size football" he won at school for his reading ability. He began to call for his friends, his smile widening as he removed the ball from his dinged up red bucket. "Jamal, Hassan, Magubani, Keto, Badu!" In South Africa the streets were not always safe as bullies sometimes roamed the allies.

The boys began to arrive and Ajani rejoiced with them as they no longer had to play with a cheap plastic ball. They began to choose sides and made preparations to guard themselves and the new ball. "Left is clear. Right is clear." Badu, who drew the shortest stick, was to stand guard atop a nearby roof. The game began in earnest and their fears were cast aside and joy permeated the alley as they dribbled and kicked the ball. The bucket sang out when the ball hit it, but suddenly strange voices rang out to them. The bullies had arrived. What could they do to thwart them? Would Ajani be able to save his precious football?

This is a magical story of a boy's love of a game and the magical world it brought to him and his friends. I loved the spirit of Ajani and his friends and their determination to play football (soccer), in spite of the inherent dangers involved. The excitement and camaraderie of the friends simply oozed from the beautiful artwork. This is an excellent book for children to learn about another culture and that playing a seemingly simple game in the streets can actually be dangerous. This beautifully done book could be used as a stepping stone for a report on South African culture and customs. This is a remarkable book on the indomitable human spirit you may want to add to your list!
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Format: Hardcover
A friendly game of football (or soccer, as we'd call it here in the U.S.) provides a rare bright spot for some boys growing up in a shanty township in South Africa. The repeated phrase, "Left is clear / Right is clear" underscores the wariness with which they must conduct themselves because, "the streets are not safe." Ajani has won a new regulation leather ball, and his friends Jamal, Hassan, Magubani, Keto and Badu are persuaded to join him for a game of football in a weatherbeaten alley, using dented metal buckets as goalposts. Just as they begin to relax and enjoy the game however, a group of bullies rides up on bikes. With a bit of inspired thinking, the boys hide their treasured new ball under a bucket, letting the bullies grab their old plastic beach ball instead. Javaherbin's lyrical use of language creates a very readable flow to the story.

Ford's full-spread oil illustrations emphasize the contrast between dusty brown streets and ramshackle buildings with the bright blue of the clear open sky. One of the most striking images is the scowl on the lead bully's face as he rides away the plastic ball. The luminous warmth in the boys skin tones is rendered beautifully, while their grimy and tattered clothing is a clue to the kind of poverty they live in. Their smiles and agile postures as they jump, kick and race about the street will be familar to any sports fan. Goal! is a thought-provoking story and is sure to be a welcome addition for teachers or librarians who want to increase their collections on bullying and social issues.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This beautiful book comes out just in time for the 2010 World Cup, but it will be treasured long after the games are over. The lyrical story is set in South Africa, amidst the kind of poverty that many American kids can hardly imagine. But the emotions of the book's young heroes are powerful, poignant, and universal - a reminder of our common humanity and the unifying power of sport. The courage and pluck these boys show in the face of the bullies they encounter will make you want to stand up and cheer.

Bullying is a hot topic these days, and GOAL! will surely be a conversation-starter for both teachers and parents. When I read the book to my 5 1/2 year old, it sparked a great discussion about bullies and bullying, and about how different life can be in other parts of the world. But my son was quick to notice that these South African boys play and love soccer, just like he does. When I got to the end of the book, my son, who usually prefers nonfiction, said, "Read it again!"

Javaherbin's poetic text and Ford's emotive oil paintings work beautifully together to create a story that is, in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu's testimonial, "uplifting and inspiring." This is a story that stays with you. I would recommend it for anyone - child, adult, coach, fan - age 6 and up.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have a 3 yr old "book-worm." Eventhough he can't read yet, he expects 3 books to be read to him every night. I bought this book because 1)It's a typical boy storybook 2)it's different: ethically/geographically/socially. My son's very sharp, so he really felt for the boys in the story & he got angry @ the bullies; needless to say we had a little "how to defend yourself" lesson in the book. I like it. Archbishop Tutu, did a marvelous job!
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Format: Hardcover
In a South African town, a young boy and his friends have to check to see if the left is clear and if the right is clear before they go out to play. If the streets are safe, they can play football, or soccer as it's known in the US. Even when the streets are clear, one boy has to act as the watchman, looking for bullies or anything else that may disrupt their game. Despite the poor circumstances, the boys enjoy a game of football, trash talking and imagining themselves as the hero of the game, just like kids all over the world do. When bullies threaten their fun, the boys work together to stand up to the bullies.

This beautiful tale is told in simple free-verse poetry. Its simple words deliver a heavy punch of themes: working together, standing up to bullies, and the playful innocence of kids.

The beautiful artwork is a great addition to this encouraging story.
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