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The Soccer Fence: A Story of Friendship, Hope and Apartheid in South Africa

by Phil Bildner
Illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson

Published by Putnam, 2014
40 pages
ISBN: 978𢠥99-247903

Ages 7-10

In the days before the end of Apartheid, a young Black South African boy who loves soccer plays in his dusty township, but can only watch the game played by white boys in the neighborhood where his mother works. Then Nelson Mandela is freed progress! But it proves to be slow from the young boy抯 perspective he抯 still ignored by the white boys playing soccer. Mandela is elected president a few years later. The white boys still ignore the boy. Then South Africa hosts the 1996 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament, and both the Black boy and one of the white boys he抯 seen playing soccer end up at the final. 揝tanding on my seat, I spotted the blond boy standing on his seat in the next section. He saw me and raised his fist. I raised my fist back. In the joyful celebration that follows South Africa抯 victory, the two boys lead a parade through their section of the stands. An author抯 note provides more information on the symbolic importance of the South African victory, which united Black and white South Africans as they cheered for their national team. A story built around this symbolism remains centered on a child抯 longing to play.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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