Failing to keep his eye on the soccer ball, a player finds himself on an eventful chase to catch the runaway plaything.
Owen loves playing soccer, but he isn’t a star. One day, while sitting on the bench during a game, he takes his eye off the ball, and it escapes—almost literally, rolling away through a nearby hole in the fence. Determined to retrieve the ball, Owen chases it across a stream, tracks it into underbrush, and returns to the game—where he now handles the ball like a pro. The strategically placed minimalist text belies the breathtaking visual rendition of Owen’s quest to catch the rogue ball. Sprightly watercolor illustrations in loose, fluid brush strokes and calligraphic lines generate a dynamic energy relentlessly propelling Owen from page to page across double-page spreads. Pinkney shows light-skinned, African-American Owen battling tsunami-sized waves, submerged and tossed in swirling water amid an onomatopoeic “whooooosh.” Reaching the shore, Owen morphs into a bold tiger, bouncing and pouncing the ball through the brush to the cliff’s edge, where he suddenly sprouts wings and acrobatically dives and swoops to capture the ball. He returns triumphantly to the game as a “floating, fierce, and flying free” soccer player who always keeps his eye “ON THE BALL!”
An inspired, exhilarating portrait of the transforming power of imagination, with special appeal for aspiring soccer stars. (Picture book. 3-5)