"I am a little nervous at the beginning of each soccer season meeting new teammates. But after a couple of practices, we all start laughing and having fun together."
Meghan is a young soccer player who has participated in the sport for three years. She really enjoys the sport and the friends that she makes while playing. There are a few basic terms and rules anyone interested in soccer should know, and Meghan discusses these items before talking about her team and season. The reader is brought along with Meghan and her team as they experience wins, losses, and draws. After each game, the team reflects on their performance and commits to working on a particular skill in their practices during the week. Meghan and her team improve as the season progresses, and they have a hard-fought match to close the season, which will determine the championship team. During the match, Meghan gets her first goal of the season. The teams’ enthusiasm and camaraderie carry them through the ups and downs, and at the end of the season, the players can’t wait to return for the next one.
This short, easy-to-read introduction to soccer works well due to the first-person format. Meghan feels like a reliable narrator who has the same thoughts and feelings other young soccer players share. With the casual presentation, readers might see a similarity to the non-fiction works by Gail Gibbons. Her books also use a simple format to present information, mostly about holidays and the natural world. However, this title obviously pays homage to the books from the late 1970s and early 1980s by the author Lowell A. Dickmeyer. His books, which even include one with the same title as this one, informed a generation of young readers on topics such as ice skating, skateboarding, swimming, and basketball. Like Dickmeyer’s classic, Schaus’ book is presented in a first-person narrative with a young participant talking about the sport and includes action photos well-placed to demonstrate the topic being discussed. However, Schaus’ work breaks new ground by having the book told from a girl’s perspective and featuring an all-girl team.
The author’s writing is clear and precise, and the vocabulary is perfectly suited for the beginning soccer students the book is targeting. Young readers won’t find an in-depth guide to strategy and skills, but that is clearly not the intention of the book. It is an introductory book for beginning players, especially those who may be a little hesitant or uncertain about what to expect when joining a team. The book briefly, but in a voice with whom the young reader can easily relate, discusses the successes and failures the new player will likely experience. This helps prepare the child to handle these moments with more grace and acceptance because they already know how these moments may look. It is a good tool to have. Non-fiction books come in a variety of formats, from the encyclopedic to the narrative, and the presentation used here is a great fit for its audience. Parents with young children about to begin soccer will find this book a great opportunity to introduce their children to the sport and the experience of playing on a team throughout a full season.
- Mark Heisey, US Review of Books