Writer Taylor and photographer Vilela give a brisk nod to the international spirit and enjoyment of soccer.
Crisp photos of children playing the game in Spain, Tanzania, Iran, Pakistan and more make it clear that one of the great beauties of soccer is that all players need is a round object of approximately a certain size to play. It can be made of the latest composite material and pumped to a precise psi, or it can be a bunch of rags bound by twine. Little rivals the elemental pleasure of giving a round object a good, sharp kick; just look at the faces of all the kids captured by Vilela: They are, in a word, gleeful. While much of Taylor’s text is forgettable—“There’s nothing quite like the excitement before you start a game of soccer. Anything can happen!”—it does express the free-spirited, class-transcending joy of the game. The brief text is accompanied by a squib of information from a particular nation set as a boxed item: Togo fielded a 13-year-old in a World Cup qualifier, for instance. Far and away, Vilela’s photographs take center stage: They are full of action and neat slices of geography as well, with kids playing beside the megaliths of Stonehenge, stupas in Nepal and a refugee camp in Jordan.
A solid introduction to soccer, carrying with it the sport’s openness to any and all. (Picture book. 4-8)