Soccer Star

illus. by Renato Alarcão. 32p. Candlewick. Apr. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763660567. LC 2013944008.
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
Soft-textured sepia-ink drawings illustrate Javaherbin's touching tribute to Brazilian children trying to better their lives via the country's beloved sport--kids like Paulo, who dreams of soccer stardom so his mother "won't have to work long hours." Rich, spare text and the art picture the seaside setting and cement the story's "homage to all soccer stars who...rise up from poverty."

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