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The Wild Soccer Bunch, Book 1, Kevin the Star Striker Hardcover – May 20, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Wild Soccer Bunch Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'I’m a huge fan of the Wild Soccer Bunch. Coming from a family where my grandmother, mother, and sister are all teachers, reading is very important to me. For those of you with children, check out the Wild Soccer Bunch book series.....I'm confident you'll love it! '

Landon Donovan U.S. soccer, MLS MVP


'The Wild Soccer Bunch, book 1 is a mash-up of 'The Mighty Ducks' and 'The Seven Samurai' that every soccer mom will want on her child's reading list!'

Steven E. de Souza, screenwriter, 48 Hours, Die Hard


Just in time to capitalize on World Cup fever, a soccer-centric middle-grade series that’s been making waves abroad is arriving in the U.S. The Wild Soccer Bunch series by Joachim Masannek, illustrated by Jan Birck, follows the adventures of a young, coed soccer team, with each book focusing on a different player. The series was originally published in Germany in 2002 under the name Die Wilden Fußballkerle, growing to 13 books in three years’ time. There are now more than nine million copies of the books in print in 29 countries, yet they hadn’t been translated into English until now. The first book, Kevin, the Star Striker, went on sale in late May from Sole Books, a new Beverly Hills-based venture that is owned by Wild Soccer USA, which has rights to the series in English-language territories, as well as film and merchandising rights.

Why the series had yet to be brought to English-speaking countries is a mystery to Yitzhak Ginsberg, publisher of Sole Books, who first became acquainted with the soccer series at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2008 (the books spawned five movies in Germany, which Masannek wrote and directed). As to why the Wild Soccer Bunch has become so popular in other markets, Ginsberg believes soccer is just a “backdrop” and only a part of the equation. “The spirit of the Bunch, a lot of it is about the world ‘wild.’ Kids want to be a little bit out of the box. The other reason is that everybody on the team has a voice,” he says. “I think it’s very appealing for kids to be able to relate to different characters [and think], ‘Maybe I’m not the star of the dteam, but I have a voice, I have a book, and I’m telling my story.’ ”

After tracking down Hebrew editions of the books in Israel, Ginsberg set about acquiring rights to the series from the German publisher, Baumhaus Verlag, and, with Wild Soccer USA, created Sole Books to publish the books here. “I created an entity that is almost virtual, with people working in America, Australia, and Israel,” Ginsberg says. “You could call it micropublishing in a way. The printer is in Michigan, the distributor [Pathway] is in New Hampshire. It’s really a new age kind of operation.”

In addition to translating the books into English, the stories are also being “localized”: the Wild Soccer Bunch is set outside of Chicago, while the original stories took place in Munich (other translations of the books are set in other cities, as well). The process, Ginsberg says, involves getting the vernacular right—“not only putting it in an American city.”

In terms of marketing the Wild Soccer Bunch, Ginsberg says that Sole Books is “heavily investing” in online marketing and will eventually be running TV and radio advertisements. The series also has a very high-profile face promoting it: soccer star Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy, who is a paid endorser of the books (and who is having a very good week at the World Cup). “Landon is really carrying the campaign in the next 12 months,” Ginsberg says. “I knew that he was one of the biggest soccer stars in America and I knew he was a very eloquent person. He comes from a family of teachers, and it’s appealing for him to endorse something that’s nontraditional for athletes. He’s doing Nike, he’s doing Gatorade, he’s doing the Wild Soccer Bunch.”

Ginsberg says Sole Books is only now getting orders from bookstores, though the books are for sale online. A second book, Diego the Tornado, will be out in December, with subsequent books in the series to follow. Ginsberg, whose background is in the film industry (he founded independent film company Dream Entertainment 17 years ago) hopes to remake the Wild Soccer Bunch films for an American audience. He also says that, while the Wild Soccer Bunch is his main focus, Sole Books is also investigating a handful of other children’s properties with film potential.

Publishers Weekly

'Wild Soccer Bunch' Lands in the U.S.

About the Author

If you don t already know, The Wild Soccer Bunch is a worldwide children's book phenomenon, having sold over 9 million books in 30 countries! Writer Joachim Masannek based the series on his own experiences as soccer coach to his young sons. Masannek's initial idea was to create a series of 13 books, each one narrated by a unique member of the team. This idea was inspired by his belief that soccer is the most inclusive of all team sports. In fact, Masannek said, "in soccer, every member of the team, regardless of his/her athletic ability, has an opportunity to be directly involved in the game. Everyone gets to run around, kick the ball, and enjoy their time outdoors." Masannek could never have anticipated the huge success that followed the release of the debut book in the Wild Soccer Bunch series in Germany. Soon, this soccer dad s artistic endeavor had millions of fans around the world, not to mention the wild success of book sales, films, and even merchandise. In fact, Masannek has written and directed five Wild Soccer Bunch feature films, breaking box office records in the process. These days, Masannek tours extensively, personally reading the books to underprivileged children across the world. If your child goes to bed wearing soccer cleats so they won t miss one minute of field time in the morning, he or she will fall in love with the Wild Soccer Bunch. And even if he or she is not the world's biggest fan, the book's universal themes of teamwork, leadership, diversity, and self-acceptance will still make an impact, and maybe even get them out and kicking a ball around! The series is a great way to introduce boys and girls alike to soccer, or any team sport; above all, the series is a fun read that will broaden the horizons of all kids, ages 8-14. Joachim Masannek, Born in 1960, studied German and Philosophy in college. He also studied at the University of Film and Television; worked as a camera operator, set designer and screenwriter in Films and TV. His children's book series The Wild Soccer Bunch has been published in 28 countries. As the screenwriter and director of the five The Wild Soccer Bunch movies, Joachim has managed to bring about nine million viewers into the theatres. He was the coach of the real Wild Bunch soccer team, coaching his sons Marlon and Leon.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 620L (What's this?)
  • Series: Wild Soccer Bunch (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Sole Books; First edition (May 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984425705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984425709
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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!
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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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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
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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.
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