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MADANI'S BEST GAME by Fran Pintadera


by Fran Pintadera ; illustrated by Raquel Catalina ; translated by Lawrence Schimel

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5597-8
Publisher: Eerdmans

A celebration of a neighborhood soccer team’s star player.

“Our whole neighborhood knows it: No one plays soccer like Madani does.” Though he may not be the tallest or the fastest, he definitely stands out—because he doesn’t wear any shoes when he plays and because there’s nothing he can’t do with the ball. “Madani makes the ball twirl and passes it from one side to the other. He hides it between his legs, shrugs it over his shoulders, catches it on his head….” Madani’s mother is unable to come watch the games because she is a seamstress and must finish her work. But as she sews, she hears the game’s cheers. Madani’s teammates imagine how much better Madani could play with a pair of cleats. When he hints that he is saving money for something that will improve his game, they hope his cleats come in time before their match against a rival team. But instead, he buys something else—something that allows his mother to hear the cheers firsthand and joyfully join in. Pintadera’s author’s note mentions that working with immigrant families—including a boy named Madani—inspired this story. Madani has dark hair and light skin; most characters are light-skinned. Smudgy, sepia-tinged tones warm the palette of this already heartwarming story. Translated from Spanish, the lyrical text is by turns poignant and triumphant. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An unselfish gift given from the biggest heart.

(Picture book. 4-7)