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BUILDING A DREAM by Darshana Khiani


How the Boys of Koh Panyee Became Champions

by Darshana Khiani ; illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 2023
ISBN: 9780802855473
Publisher: Eerdmans

Kids make their dreams come true.

A group of boys who live in Koh Panyee, a small Thai village raised above the water on stilts, are obsessed with football (what Americans would refer to as soccer). They “dribble…on the way to school” and even shoot “goals during evening chores.” On Saturday afternoons, they go to Uncle Hemmin’s cafe to watch football, cheering for every goal. Inspired, the friends want to practice so they can eventually challenge the boys who live on the mainland, but they don’t have anywhere to play. The evenly paced narrative reveals that every alleyway, pier, and walkway is already filled with busy adults with little patience for their ball playing. Even Uncle Hemmin tells them to “Stick to boat racing. It’s tradition.” A secret beach during low tide becomes their makeshift field until it is used for new homes. Frustrated, the boys decide to build their own floating pitch, hauling wood scraps and collecting nails and ignoring the laughter from villagers. Phumiruk creates dreamy scenes with soft hues of color to depict the boys slipping and falling into the water as they gradually improve their balance with their new and constantly “swaying pitch.” Their hard work pays off, as the team performs well at a mainland football tournament, in the process winning over the hearts of their village—and readers. An author’s note describes the real events that inspired this tale. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A stirring story of perseverance.

(illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)