A lyrical, strikingly illustrated story celebrates the unifying power of soccer. In a dusty township in South Africa, Ajani and his friends have earned a brand-new, federation-size soccer ball. They kick. They dribble. They run. They score. These clever boys are football champions! But when a crew of bullies tries to steal their ball, will Ajani and his friends be able to beat them at their own game?

One thought on “Goal!

  1. Tracy Smiles says:

    In honor of one of the world’s most celebrated sports’ event, The World Cup, the first WOW Comment of July highlights Goal (2010), a beautiful and provocative book about Anjani and his friends who take time out from their chores and studies to play in the streets with a brand new soccer ball Anjani won at school. Set in an arid South African Township, Anajani and his friends play soccer with the intensity and determination of world champions, forgetting about the dangers that lurk in the streets. The game is interrupted when a gang of bullies appear. Anajani and his friends cleverly trick the bullies, saving the prized new ball from theft.

    A.J. Ford’s illustrations make this book a visual treasure trove for critical and visual inquiry, highlighting the beauty of the children and the country set in a back drop of poverty, as reflected in the shanty buildings that line the alleys. Mina Javaherbin crafts the story in a way that the reader can connect with the boys and their dreams of being world class soccer players, while alluding to the dangerous challenges of living in the township. And though the boys overcome the bullies attempt to steal the ball, the ending does not suggest everything will be alright, “Down the alley, as far as we can see is clear. The streets are not safe here.” But the boys, through their friendship, resilience, and sense of hope, leave the reader more aware of the perilous situations of children who live with war, poverty, and hardship.

    This book can invite explorations of critical issues like bullying, poverty, and friendship, as well as how soccer can represent values and hopes children share around the world. It could be paired with other books about children living in Africa, Asia, North America such Ahmed and the Day of Secrets, and Friends from the Other Side.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *