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YOUNG PELÉ by Lesa Cline-Ransome


Soccer’s First Star

by Lesa Cline-Ransome & illustrated by James E. Ransome

Age Range: 4 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-375-83599-5
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

While eight-year-old Edson do Nascimento’s classmates are learning the alphabet and math, he is dreaming about playing soccer. Edson is small for his age, but he’s determined and obsessed. He and his neighborhood friends form a team they name “September 7” after Brazil’s day of independence. They work hard and earn money for uniforms, but there’s not enough for shoes. The father of three of the boys volunteers to be their coach and gets some used shoes donated. Pelé’s father, a former soccer player, also helps his son train. Edson, now Pelé, and his team improve and go on to win their game in the youth soccer tournament. An inspiring and indomitable subject and beautiful oils depicting Brazil’s diverse population help overcome a rather flat narrative that tells the story of one very poor kid who made good. Missteps along the way—he gets his nickname early on, but it isn’t given meaning until the author’s note; suddenly, after several mentions of the ball made of rags, there’s a real ball, but no explanation; there are no resources or further reading offered; imagined conversations—mar a story that will still have appeal to young soccer fans. (Picture book. 4-9)