A grab bag of soccer tidbits, gathered like so many acorns by Mills.
Mills took the soccer tree and gave it a good shake. Down came a rain of soccer thises and thats, a precious few basic to the game (like the size of a stadium), some meant to wow (like the stadium—it could only be in Rio de Janeiro—that once held 200,000), and a random swarm of crazies: the soccer field built on a tilt, the player who was traded for 33 pounds of sausage (in 2006!), and the Swiss soccer field that was overrun by frogs. (That is called an omen; game over, go home.) The book is composed of boxed items and free-floating paragraphs that come at readers like flashcards. The graphics are cheery and the photographs are sharp and telling, and there is a curious emphasis on scoring in a game known to go scoreless for ages and ages. Soccer greats are given 10 seconds of page time, and so are the hapless Joes. Women are given a nod, but men dominate. Does the sum of these parts give readers a greater appreciation of the game? No. Will they be able to lob a piece or two of trivia into a soccer conversation to establish street cred? Yes.
Random, with the occasional fact as undeniably flabbergasting as, well, soccer-ball–sized hail. (Nonfiction. 9-12)