Sunday, June 6, 2010


I was shopping with my wife and daughter to purchase a book for an end of the year teacher gift (as we make that grand leap to middle school).  We've been at our elementary school for 18 years (we open-enrolled our oldest there when he was in Kindergarten) and it's sad for us to even think about leaving (but that's a blog entry for another day).  My daughter settled on Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes by Susan V. Bosak for her fifth grade teacher.
     I, of course, couldn't leave the bookstore empty-handed and I left with Mina Javaherbin's book GoalI couldn't resist.  Somehow, even when I'm in the bookstore buying something for someone else, I have to leave with a treat for myself.  And, oh what a gem this book is... my wife made me sit down and read it (I think she wanted it just as badly as I did and so it made its way into our pile).  Check out her website Mina Javaherbin or blog.
     In her debut picture book, the author writes a wonderful story of soccer and its role in the life of a group of boys in a small South African township.  Jamal and his friends play soccer in the streets and win a "football" at school.  They use soccer as an outlet to forget the realities that surround them.  Their federation-sized ball is a prized possession and a group of bullies arrive on the scene to steal the ball.  Jamal's quick thinking and a bit of fancy footwork add a surprising twist to the outcome.  "The streets are not always safe..." is a reminder throughout the book, but the boys find solace in their sport.  The last page is amazing...
     "Left is clear, 
     Right is clear, 
     Down the alley, as far as we can see is clear.  
     The streets are not safe here.  
     But we have a plan.  
     When we play, 
     the sound 
     of our kicks 
     on the ball 
     is music.  

     When we play together, 
     we are unbeatable."

I am moving to 4th grade with many of my students next year.  I'm saving this book for the first few weeks of school... as we revisit the idea of "stamina and endurance."  I write about it in Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop.  I can't wait to begin the new school year.  This book is a perfect addition to my (our) collection!


  1. Hi, Patrick--

    We met at NCTE last year--this is my first visit to your blog. All I can say for now is that writing "I can't wait to begin the new school year" on June 6 is the sign of a man who has found his true calling--like me, distracted by all kinds of things but thinking daily about new ways I want to approach my teaching next year!

    On my summer reading list (and finally getting to it): Conferring!