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Soccer Star Hardcover – April 8, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Paulo Marcelo Feliciano (aka Felino) dreams of rescuing his mother from long hours at work by achieving glory on the soccer field. As the story opens, the boy and his sister, Maria, set out for the day, bringing with them a bag of their mother's delicious cheese buns. Along the way, they dribble and kick the soccer ball. Maria longs to play in a game with her brother, but the "team's rule is no girls." Leaving Maria at school, Felino heads for the shore, where his boss waits by his fishing boat. Growing up impoverished in Brazil, Felino and his friends all work to help their families. Over the course of the day, Felino encounters Carlos, Jose, Givo, and Pedro, sharing his cheese buns with his teammates. He spends a long day on the water but finally returns to the beach, and the game begins. When Jose, the goalie, injures his wrist, Givo takes his place at the net, and the team calls Maria from the sidelines, refusing to let a "useless old rule" stand in the way of victory. Alarcão's luminous digitally colored sepia-ink illustrations elegantly portray the setting. The joyful expressions of the players as they dribble, knee, and bicycle kick the ball around the sandy soccer field reinforce the story's positive and inspiring tone. Readers who love the game will cheer on Felino and his team of hopeful soccer stars.—Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston, MA
Aspiring soccer champion Paulo Marcelo Feliciano presents himself prior to the title page, declaring, Soon I will shine like a star. . . . like Garrincha, Pelé, and Ronaldo, / who have all played in these alleys. Paulo introduces his teammates as they toil in various settings. At the end of their workday, the team gathers for a pickup soccer game where Paulo’s sister, the only one who attends school, scores the winning goal with a dramatic bicycle kick. Paulo’s enthusiasm for soccer is infectious, but the story also reveals Brazilian poverty, in which boys must work rather than attend school. Alarcão, himself from Brazil, provides scenes of modest homes stacked on a hillside, narrow passageways, and children at work more than at play. Still, the energetic art, rendered in sepia ink with digital coloration, also reflects Paulo’s passion and exuberance, and views of fishing boats in the ocean and the hillside homes at twilight are especially dramatic. With the 2016 Olympics coming to Brazil, this is a timely story, but Paulo’s dream will resonate with soccer fans long before and after that event. Grades K-3. --Linda Perkins
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Felino loves to play the beautiful game of soccer and wants to be a star like the other greats, who once played barefoot in the same alleys as he does. He dreams about making enough money to allow his mom to work less hours. Every day while his sister, Maria, is at school, Felino and all of his teammates spend the day working. At the end of the workday Felino plays soccer with his teammates. Then, at night Felino practices soccer with Maria and she teaches him what she learned at school. The day of the game Maria asks to play too, but the boys refuse until Jose hurts his wrist. In a beautiful moment Maria shoots and scores with a bicycle kick. Mina Javaherbin’s text speaks eloquently to the matter of gender quality and keeping dreams alive even in difficult circumstances like poverty. The text is lyrical and engaging with a positive story of hope and perseverance that is a great unifier appealing to a wide range of readers. Renato Alarcão’s illustrations beautifully capture the spirit of the game. A love of Brazil shines through the diverse illustrations. The pictures capture the life and energy of a soccer game.
Note: A copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
In Soccer Star, readers meet a young boy named Paulo Marcelo Feliciano who lives in Brazil. He loves soccer and loves to learn. He spends much of his day working though so is unable to go to school. In the late afternoon and evening his younger sister shares what she learns at school and he shares soccer with her.
Like Javaherbin's previous book Goal! we see hope and perseverance amidst difficult living situations. Though times are hard for the characters, they have an optimistic outlook and live life with joy. They are dreaming big and they don't hold back.
Elementary age students are often intrigued by issues of justice. Seeing that children are missing school to earn money is sure to catch their attention. The fact that girls aren't allowed on the soccer team will also likely have some students questioning the lack of fairness there too. I anticipate lively discussions as a result of reading this book with students.
Beyond that, soccer is a topic that crosses gender, class, and geographic lines. Soccer is a language that many children understand so I know this book will speak to them.
And last, but not least, the illustrations are gorgeous. There is a warmth surrounding the characters and the pictures are joyful. They are also full of life and energy. Everything is very pretty and clean, but looking closely readers can still see the broken pieces of netting in the goal and notice things like the children playing without soccer gear.
I look forward to sharing Soccer Star with staff and students. It's a positive text and will likely inspire readers to work for change in the world.
Review originally posted at Reading Through Life [...]
You will read about the support and friendship of the boys but also the community in which they live. You will see the support from the adults and the positive attitudes portrayed by everyone.
I see this book as possibly opening up a discussion between you and your child about courage and having high expectations or goals. Ask your child about their hopes and dreams for their future and how they may accomplish what they would like to do.
*I received this for review - all opinions are my own*
This is a beautifully illustrated story that shows a little bit what daily life is like in the favelas. It depicts how children have to work to help support their families, but also really shows how there is hope and happiness in these communities as well. There are some very nicely interspersed Portuguese words which are simple to translate through context. Highly recommend!