Twenty-two poems celebrate, from a young person’s perspective, the beautiful game that is soccer.
Two poems offer the viewpoints of a pair of shin guards—one of them left on the field by accident after the last game. A wry observation about “Fans” is spot-on: “I like it when my parents come. / I like that they are near. / But when they yell instructions, / I pretend that I can’t hear.” A poem for two voices in which one player speaks Spanish and one English happily concludes: “Si! Juguemos! / Yes! Let’s play!” (The Spanish voice uses English punctuation conventions.) A player contemplates the difficulty of offering a handshake to an overly aggressive opposing player at game’s end. Another, carded for an infraction, is relieved to have his apology accepted. Ikê’s digitally created art is stylized and full of motion. His lighthearted illustrations incorporate some poetic fantasy elements and flourishes, such as an inventor creating a perfect teammate: mostly feet for a field player; hands for a goal keeper. Most of the players display a range of skin colors and hair colors and textures; a preponderance have short hair. Each poem uses one or more of 13 poetic forms described briefly in an author’s note—something that will surely charm teachers and aspiring poets.
A pitch-perfect ode to the details and delights of playing soccer. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)