Young Pele: Soccer's First Star

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How did a poor boy named Edson?who kicked rocks down roads and dribbled balls made from rags?go on to become the greatest soccer player of all time? Here is the story of the boy who with great determination, lightning speed, and amazing skill overcame tremendous odds to become the world champion soccer star Pel?. Talented author/illustrator team Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome bring his inspirational story vibrantly to life. The theme of this Dragonfly Book is Sports.

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How did a poor boy named Edson—who kicked rocks down roads and dribbled balls made from rags—go on to become the greatest soccer player of all time? Here is the story of the boy who with great determination, lightning speed, and amazing skill overcame tremendous odds to become the world champion soccer star Pelé. Talented author/illustrator team Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome bring his inspirational story vibrantly to life. The theme of this Dragonfly Book is Sports.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 4 to 8.

The husband-and-wife team of James E. Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome, who have previously collaborated on profiles of Satchel Paige and Major Taylor, now focus their attention on the childhood of another athlete of color, Edson de Nascimento, better known as Pelé. The Brazilian soccer superstar's story begins in a small town, where Edson's mind wanders to soccer plays instead of school assignments. Soon enough, his ragtag team (known as the "Shoeless Ones" because they cannot afford athletic footwear) gains notice, especially when its young star takes charge. A brief afterward puts Pelé's story in the context of his later soccer career, but the heart of the story lies in Pelé's continued connection to his family and his roots even as he begins to realize his soccer dreams. James E. Ransome's brilliantly-colored oil paintings, imbued with the hues of the Brazilian flag, add excitement and visual interest to the narrative, which will likely be of high interest to young aspiring soccer stars. Reviewer: Norah Piehl

Kirkus Reviews
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. Pele's father, a former soccer player, also helps his son train. Edson, now Pele, 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)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Booklist, September 1, 2007:
"With handsome oil paintings and a stirring story, this picture-book biography will first grab children with its action."
—Hazel Rochman
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Pelé, the Brazilian soccer player, was only 17 when his team won the World Cup in 1958, and many consider him to be the greatest soccer player of all time. In this well-written picture-book biography (Schwartz & Wade, 2007) by Lesa Cline-Ransome, students learn of the focus, tenacity, and perseverance Edson do Nascimento had from childhood that led to success in his chosen sport and a rise from a life of poverty. The author's compelling, well-paced text is accompanied by lush, vibrant paintings by James E. Ransome. Together they take listeners through Pelé's boyhood soccer dreams and growth into a successful player. The author and illustrator have created a beautiful book. Narration by Brazilian-born Ibsen Santos further enhances the experience, providing not only correct pronunciations for the Portuguese names and words, but a trained voice that creates unique characters and performs the story with intensity and vigor. Background music and sound effects round out the production, making it truly exceptional. This audio production merits a place in every school library.—Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375871566
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/13/2011
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 344,631
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

LESA CLINE-RANSOME is the author of numerous highly acclaimed picture book biographies, including Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George; Young Pelé: Soccer's First Star, called "stirring" in a starred review from Booklist; Satchel Paige, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book about an African American baseball hero; Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist, about an African American cyclist; and Helen Keller: The World in Her Heart. Visit her at


JAMES E. RANSOME is the illustrator of many award-winning titles, including Young Pelé: Soccer's First Star, a finalist for the NAACP Image Awards; Satchel Paige; and Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist. He is also the illustrator of Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building by Deborah Hopkinson, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor and an ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book; Creation, which won a Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration; and Let My People Go by Patricia C. McKissack, winner of an NAACP Image Award. Visit him at

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2013

    Silvermoon to Blazeclaw

    How about 'Cresent' res 1?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2013


    Result 6

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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