This past Friday the FIFA World Cup began in Johannesburg, South Africa. Considering this event and the fact my daughter is playing soccer (or football) right now and that the current issue of PaperTigers is all about ‘play,’ I thought I’d do a post on a soccer book for kids. Sergio Saves the Game by Edel Rodriguez (Little, Brown and Company, 2009) is a short delightful picture book about a penguin named Sergio who, despite his love of the game, has some troubles actually playing it. Instead of kicking, jumping, defending, heading, etc. like a star, he trips, falls, crashes, slips, etc. like … well, NOT like the star he thinks he is in his dreams. His parents make the suggestion that he try being the goalie, so off Sergio goes with renewed hope. Will he succeed? Well, as the saying goes in reviews like this, read the book and find out!
I enjoyed this book, particularly after witnessing my daughter play. Soccer is a tough game and learning the skills necessary to play it well can be difficult. And yet at the same time, the game is a lot of fun. Twice a week, my daughter goes out to different pitches all over the city in her shiny soccer outfit and cleats to play games with other girls her age. It’s a good experience. The great thing about soccer is how little one needs in equipment to play, compared with other games. All that’s really required is a ball to kick around. No wonder the game is so universal in its appeal.
On the back flap of Sergio Saves the Game is a great photo of the young Edel Rodriguez playing with his first official soccer ball in America — a black and white one. Although Rodriguez was familiar with the game, he’d only played with a plain ball in his native Cuba. The picture is an endearing one, sure to warm the heart of any soccer parent out there!