Introducing a soccer series for new readers Kickers #1
Nine-year-old Ben is brand-new to soccer, but he's a good athlete and knows he'll do well on the Bobcats, his team in the local Kickers soccer league. If he can only work around his obnoxious teammate Mark, the ball hog, Ben is sure he'll score his first goal. But Coach Patty, and Ben's...
Introducing a soccer series for new readers
Nine-year-old Ben is brand-new to soccer, but he's a good athlete and knows he'll do well on the Bobcats, his team in the local Kickers soccer league. If he can only work around his obnoxious teammate Mark, the ball hog, Ben is sure he'll score his first goal. But Coach Patty, and Ben's own teammates, show him a little something about teamwork. And suddenly it dawns on him: he's a ball hog, too. Can he change his ways before the Bobcats lose their shot at the Kickers play-offs?
Award-winning sports novelist Rich Wallace introduces the Kickers soccer series, filled with lively black-and-white art and fast-paced, on-the-field action.
Centered on a coed fourth-grade soccer team, the Kickers series starts up with a novel that delivers a worthwhile if belabored message about teamwork. Though Ben hasn’t played on a soccer team before, he is determined to outshine bossy, boastful Mark, who at the first Bobcats practice announces, “I’ll be the star of this team.” Ben soon realizes that he is as much of a ball hog as Mark is, and Wallace (the Winning Season series) bluntly spells out the solution to that compound problem: “ knew that the best chance the Bobcats had to win a game would be if he and Mark could somehow work together.” A less lively parallel drama about fair play and inclusion plays out at the schoolyard, where Ben and his classmates work out their differences during games of four square. Those scenes drag, though the soccer action propels the rest of the story, which has an unsurprising yet heartening finale. The second installment, Fake Out, arrives in August. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 7-10. (June)
- Ann Sanger
When Ben and Erin join the Bobcats, the town soccer team, Ben is confident that he is one of the best players. But Ben hopes that obnoxious boy, Mark, is not on their team. Mark is a good player, but he brags about being number one and makes fun of other players. Right from the start Ben and Erin learn that Mark is a ball hog. The competition between Ben and Mark is carried to the fourth-grade playground at school. At recess Shayna, the coach's daughter, teaches Ben and Erin how to work on their passing skills. But Mark makes fun of Ben for playing with girls. The boys are so busy trying to monopolize the ball on the playing field that the Bobcats lose their first and second games. At practice, Coach Patti instructs the boys to play as a team, passing and moving and talking to each other. Maybe they could win the next game if they showed some teamwork. But how can you work with someone that only thinks about how great he is? Soon Ben realizes he too may be a ball hog. Can they work together to win the next game against the Sharks? Sportsmanship and teamwork is a hard concept for this age group, but Wallace does a good job of showing solutions to the problem. He has written three other books in the "Kickers" series. This easy reader with black and white sketches will be a favorite of soccer players, both boys and girls. Reviewer: Ann Sanger
A little light on plot, this new series designed for middlegrade readers focuses on soccer skills and sportsmanship and is full of playbyplay action. Nineyearold Ben is the thirdperson focus through which readers meet the players. In the series opener, the coed team gathers and learns the basic skills from Coach Patty. Tensions rise and games are lost because Mark and Ben, both highly competitive, refuse to pass the ball. Eventually, Ben realizes that their best chance of winning is working together. Number two in the series, Fake Out (9780375857553;
Rich Wallace is the acclaimed author of many books for young readers, including Wrestling Sturbridge, an ALA-YALSA Best of the Best Book for Young Adults; Shots on Goal, a Booklist Top 10 Sports Book for Youth; Perpetual Check; and the Winning Season series. He coached soccer for several years, beginning when his older son joined a team in kindergarten.
Rich Wallace lives in New Hampshire with his wife, author Sandra Neil Wallace. You can visit him on the Web at richwallacebooks.com.