Bellos and Lyttleton team up to create the ultimate school, one in which every subject from biology to zoology is focused through the world of soccer.
The premise is an interesting one, and the book begins successfully enough with biology, where readers learn about the importance of a soccer player’s diet as well as gain a cursory understanding of the digestive system. Each chapter is similarly themed—with varying levels of success—and readers learn about different subjects while picking up facts and trivia about international teams. Each chapter begins with a cartoon rendering of the authors and a few puns and ends with an equally punny player’s card for the star student in the class and a quiz. For instance, Tulip Feaver is star student of philosophy class, where readers learn about famous Dutch coaches Marinus Michels and Johan Cruyff and how their strategies changed international play. While the player’s cards are amusing and offer a variety of genders and a bit of ethnic diversity, the quizzes are less successful. The questions asked frequently have nothing to do with the preceding chapter and vary between those that are specific to soccer and general knowledge. This may be the most frustrating aspect of the book; how do you become a star student if the instructors are quizzing you on things you’ve never been taught?
Red card it. (Nonfiction. 8-12)