Soccer Star

Overview

Just in time for the World Cup, an inspiring story of a Brazilian boy who dreams of being a soccer star — and the sister who steps in to help his team win a game.

When Paulo Marcelo Feliciano becomes a soccer star, crowds will cheer his famous name! Then his mother won’t have to work long hours, and he won’t have to work all day on a fishing boat. For now, Paulo takes care of his little sister Maria (she teaches him reading, he teaches her soccer moves) and walks her to school, ...

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Overview

Just in time for the World Cup, an inspiring story of a Brazilian boy who dreams of being a soccer star — and the sister who steps in to help his team win a game.

When Paulo Marcelo Feliciano becomes a soccer star, crowds will cheer his famous name! Then his mother won’t have to work long hours, and he won’t have to work all day on a fishing boat. For now, Paulo takes care of his little sister Maria (she teaches him reading, he teaches her soccer moves) and walks her to school, stopping to give his teammates cheese buns as they set out to shine people’s shoes or perform for the tourist crowd. At day’s end, it’s time to plan the game, where Givo will bounce, Carlos will kick, and Jose will fly! But when Jose falls on his wrist, will the team finally break the rules and let a girl show her stuff? Set in a country whose resilient soccer stars are often shaped by poverty, this uplifting tale of transcending the expected scores a big win for all.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Sarah Harrison Smith
Javaherbin gives her readers plenty to think about, but intimations of hardship can't dim the children's infectious pleasure in the game.
Publishers Weekly
04/28/2014
Javaherbin follows Goal! with another moving story drawn from the world of soccer, this time focusing on a Brazilian boy named Paolo with big dreams for himself and his neighborhood team. Paolo’s sense of hope is almost tangible in Alarcão’s cinematically lit ink drawings, which show Paolo visiting his friends (like Paolo, they are all working to support their families). During the team’s big match, Paolo finally allows his sister to join the team, a decision that’s both a small-scale victory and a symbol of promise on a larger scale: “It’s up to me, and my vote is for change.” Ages 5–8. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
In Alarcão’s illustrations, the bright-white sunshine of Brazil takes on a soft edge, and the high roofs of the favelas offer the perfect perch for kite-flying. It’s a child’s-eye view of poverty, well suited to this story narrated by Paulo Marcela Feliciano, a determined, optimistic boy of about 11 who lives in one of the shanties. ... Javaherbin gives her readers plenty to think about, but intimations of hardship can’t dim the children’s infectious pleasure in the game.
—The New York Times Online

[I]t's downright refreshing to see illustrations that realistically relay the diversity of shades found among Brazilians. Javaherbin deftly handles Paulo and Maria’s poverty with honesty while simultaneously refraining from sugarcoating, overemphasizing or romanticizing it. Perhaps most importantly, Javaherbin shows that being poor doesn’t stop people from having lives and dreams. A lovely story about soccer, gender and hope.
—Kirkus Reviews

Alarcão’s luminous digitally colored sepia-ink illustrations elegantly portray the setting. The joyful expressions of the players as they dribble, knee, and bicycle kick the ball around the sandy soccer field reinforce the story’s positive and inspiring tone. Readers who love the game will cheer on Felino and his team of hopeful soccer stars.
—School Library Journal

Paulo’s enthusiasm for soccer is infectious, but the story also reveals a Brazilian poverty in which boys must work rather than attend school. Alarcão, himself from Brazil, provides scenes of modest homes stacked on a hillside, narrow passageways, and children at work more than at play. Still, the energetic art, rendered in sepia ink with digital coloration, also reflects Paulo’s passion and exuberance, and views of fishing boats in the ocean and the hillside homes at twilight are especially dramatic. With the 2016 Olympics coming to Brazil, this is a timely story, but Paulo’s dream will resonate with soccer fans long before and after that event.
—Booklist

Javaherbin follows Goal! with another moving story drawn from the world of soccer... Paolo’s sense of hope is almost tangible in Alarcão’s cinematically lit ink drawings, which show Paolo visiting his friends (like Paolo, they are all working to support their families). During the team’s big match, Paolo finally allows his sister to join the team, a decision that’s both a small-scale victory and a symbol of promise on a larger scale: "It’s up to me, and my vote is for change."
—Publishers Weekly

Javaherbin’s opening note states, "My story is an homage to all soccer stars who have risen and continue to rise up from poverty," and although fictional Paulo’s tale is certainly purposive, it’s not heavy-handed. ... Javaherbin and Alarcao offer young soccer fans a thoughtful and engaging look at a lively team of dreamers.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

This timely picture book, set [in Brazil] in a favela, underscores the fun of the game and its allure, especially for poor kids looking to stardom as a way out. ... A Brazilian illustrator offers spacious, digitally colored ink drawings to highlight play-by-play action and special skills. ... Without being weighed down, this winning tale hits the big themes of poverty, gender, national pride and aspiration.
—San Francisco Chronicle

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
“I am Paulo Marcelo Feliciano…a champion…” announces our young narrator in a slum favela in Brazil. Some day when he becomes a soccer star, he declares, his mother will not have to work so long and hard. His job is fishing during the day; he practices soccer moves with his sister Maria on her way to school and every evening with his team. As he passes the members of his team at their work, he keeps practicing and dreaming of the future. He and Senhor da Silva, who is also his coach, fish during the day and plot game plans. That evening at the game, the rule is no girls. But when they are short a player, Maria is allowed to play, and scores! Paulo, captain of the team, is sure that one day, “We will light every home in Brazil.” Created with sepia ink with color added digitally, the mainly double-page illustrations are naturalistic and full of action. There are views of the alleys and streets of the favela, hinting of the poverty from which the soccer stars may arise. Details of a carnival float and the soccer game add interest. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz; Ages 5 to 8.
School Library Journal
04/01/2014
Gr 1–3—Paulo Marcelo Feliciano (aka Felino) dreams of rescuing his mother from long hours at work by achieving glory on the soccer field. As the story opens, the boy and his sister, Maria, set out for the day, bringing with them a bag of their mother's delicious cheese buns. Along the way, they dribble and kick the soccer ball. Maria longs to play in a game with her brother, but the "team's rule is no girls." Leaving Maria at school, Felino heads for the shore, where his boss waits by his fishing boat. Growing up impoverished in Brazil, Felino and his friends all work to help their families. Over the course of the day, Felino encounters Carlos, Jose, Givo, and Pedro, sharing his cheese buns with his teammates. He spends a long day on the water but finally returns to the beach, and the game begins. When Jose, the goalie, injures his wrist, Givo takes his place at the net, and the team calls Maria from the sidelines, refusing to let a "useless old rule" stand in the way of victory. Alarcão's luminous digitally colored sepia-ink illustrations elegantly portray the setting. The joyful expressions of the players as they dribble, knee, and bicycle kick the ball around the sandy soccer field reinforce the story's positive and inspiring tone. Readers who love the game will cheer on Felino and his team of hopeful soccer stars.—Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston, MA
Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-19
A soccer story with a gender-equality twist. The sense of place is established from the title page with an illustration of the young protagonist flying a kite in his Brazilian neighborhood. Paulo loves to play soccer and one day hopes to be a famous soccer star. While he walks his sister, Maria, to school, they practice soccer moves. Paulo then makes his way to the fishing boat where he works, greeting his teammates along the way; they, like him, work during the day and play soccer afterward. There's a lull in pacing in the middle of the story, but it quickly picks up with the "big game." While Paulo respects Maria's soccer skills, his teammates won't let her play—until one of them is injured, and she then scores. Alarcão expertly captures the motion of Maria's triumphant, scoring bicycle kick, but it's too bad there is no illustration that shows the team explicitly welcoming her into the fold. That's a minor quibble, as it's downright refreshing to see illustrations that realistically relay the diversity of shades found among Brazilians. Javaherbin deftly handles Paulo and Maria's poverty with honesty while simultaneously refraining from sugarcoating, overemphasizing or romanticizing it. Perhaps most importantly, Javaherbin shows that being poor doesn't stop people from having lives and dreams. A lovely story about soccer, gender and hope. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763660567
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 4/8/2014
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 378,294
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Mina Javaherbin is the author of Goal!, illustrated by A. G. Ford. She was born in Iran and immigrated to the United States, where she is a practicing architect. She lives in Southern California.

Renato Alarcão has illustrated many children’s books, including Roberto’s Trip to the Top by John B. Paterson Sr. and John B. Paterson Jr. He lives in Brazil.

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