The Mighty Ducks (of film fame) meet soccer, Irish style.
Only this time it’s a team called “Mighty Dynamo.” Twelve-year-old Noah, a white boy, is unfairly kicked off his school’s soccer team by his principal after being the victim in a fight during a match. With an important international school soccer championship coming up, the only way Noah can play is to create a team himself. With his asthmatic best friend doing a lot of the coaching, the pair brings together a motley group of players, including two girls, a tough, impoverished, white bully, and a Nigerian-Irish boy (who provides much of the book’s diversity). Playing is critical to Noah; he’s hopeful he can catch the eye of a scout and get on track to be a professional player, a job that will provide the money to bring his dad back home to the west of Ireland from a job in Australia. Thrillingly detailed descriptions of intense soccer matches, plenty of evil villainy on the part of several sketchy, almost caricatured adults, and teammates with fully realized characters all serve to make this an engrossing (if rather predictable) and often humorous sports story, enhanced by the Irish setting. Although too long to promote to very reluctant readers, there is enough breathless action and strong, believable sports flavor to this effort to make it an easy sell to those (male and female) that enjoy the sport.
Go team! (Fiction. 9-14)