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by Mina Javaherbin
Illustrated by A. G. Ford

Published by Candlewick Press, 2010
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4571-7

Ages 5 - 8

The Iranian author of a story set in South Africa writes in an author’s note: “Football is magic to me. Where there is a ball, there is hope, laughter and strength.” And her story’s young narrator has a wonderful ball—“a federation-size football that he won for being the best reader in his class.” No longer do he and his friends have to play with cheap plastic balls most kids own. They have everything they need for a great game of soccer, but when they play in the streets of their town they have to draw straws to see who will be the roof guard, on the lookout for bullies who would steal the wonderful ball. A. G. Ford’s realistic oil paintings give a strong sense of a hardscrabble, sun-baked town even as they illustrate the universal details of a game played by children around the world. And even though the streets are never safe for these children, there is always a game to be played. As the narrator says, “When we play, we forget to worry. When we run, we are not afraid.”  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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