Let’s talk about the most amazing soccer stars ever!
Billioud’s list of 40 is fair, but its struggles with format, content, and illustrations mean that it may be treasured by only the most die-hard fans of the sport. Information on each player covers one page, which is divided into seven text boxes, with additional trivia added to an illustrated image of the player on the facing page. The information provided is superficial and may leave readers with more questions than answers; for example, the section on French player Zinédine Zidane mentions his infamous head-butt in the 2006 World Cup final but neglects to provide any context for the action. The brevity of the text makes no allowance for readers fully unfamiliar with the game. Cristiano Ronaldo’s section mentions his “succession of drag-backs, step-overs, and nutmegs,” but the book fails to define any of these terms. Almasty’s illustrations feature a collection of digitally created characters that are akin to tall, sporty versions of LEGO minifigures. With little subtlety in palette and detail, many of the players appear to be an interchangeable lot. Is that man Cha Baum-Kun of South Korea or Diego Maradona of Argentina? Without the uniforms as a guide, it’s hard to tell. Finally, in the history of soccer, surely more than four women have risen to the top of anyone’s list.
Red-card it. (Nonfiction. 9-12)