I, of course, couldn't leave the bookstore empty-handed and I left with Mina Javaherbin's book Goal. I 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,
of our kicks
on the ball
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!