KEEPER

This stirring adventure—a soccer story? a ghost story?—defies expectations. Soccer reporter Paul Faustino is thrilled to have an exclusive interview with brilliant goalkeeper El Gato, whose team just won the World Cup. El Gato offers the incredulous reporter an unbelievable tale. As a child, the goalie explains, he was terrible at sports in a soccer-mad town, so he retreated to the jungle his village found frightening but he found beautiful. In the jungle’s darkest tangles, he encountered a mysterious goalkeeper who drilled him mercilessly for two years. When El Gato left his secret training to become a logger like his father (against his mother’s wishes, who wanted her son to go to college and become a scientist), he discovered he’d become a world-class goalie. El Gato’s mystical revelations are saturated with reverence for the vanishing jungle, and his too-perfect soccer ability is tempered by the confusion of a grown man who wants a life his adored parents would not have chosen. Both lyrical and gripping. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7636-2749-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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FIDDLIN' SAM

In a family memoir of the most affecting kind, readers are invited to a long-ago time in the Ozark Mountains and the story of a musician who owned “the clothes on his back and a fine old lionhead fiddle.” Fiddlin’ Sam is the inheritor of the peripatetic, minstrel’s life of his father, who taught Sam his art, saying, “This ain’t a gift, Son. It’s a loan. You gotta pass the music along.” Sam accepts the food that appreciative people give him, but politely refuses their offer of a bed. When a rattler bites him, Sam fears he has failed his calling; the music will die with him. In the feverish time that follows, someone takes care of him, a young man whom Sam hopes will take up the gift and carry it along—but the boy has other plans. In the years that follow, Sam meets another young man on the road who reminds him of the first one, and, indeed, is his son. Their path together lasts long enough for Sam to pass along his gift and its joys and burdens before he dies. An endpiece dedication allows readers to glimpse aspects of the story that are based in truth. A rhythmic refrain underscores the emotions of the story, and even acts as the vehicle of the ascension of Sam’s soul at death. Gerig’s watercolors deliver the scenic beauty of the region and carry their own version of a familial tribute. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1999

ISBN: 0-87358-742-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rising Moon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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