In honor of the start of The World Cup and all the fans in my family who will be watching: This review originally appeared as a NonFiction Monday post in March 2008. Schwartz& Wade reminded me of this title in their FaceBook update today.
Young Pelé: soccer's first star by Lesa Cline-Ransome, paintings by James E. Ransome; Schwartz&Wade Books, 2007
James Ransome's illustrations shine in this picture book biography of Edson do Nascimento, who would be known to the world as Pelé. Using the greens, yellows and blues of the Brazilian flag Ransome paints luminous scenes of Edson's school, family and soccer life.
Edson struggled in school and his first soccer ball was "a sock stuffed with rags, rolled up and tied with string." His inability to focus in class resulted in reprimands and punishments but soccer was always foremost in his mind. His team, the Shoeless Ones, became a force in the city's soccer leagues. His nickname, Pelé, was bestowed at this young age.
The author describes the work ethic of the team; they sold peanuts and shined shoes to earn money for uniforms. The reader is reminded that talent also requires practice, drills, coaching and teamwork to suceed.
There is much here for the young soccer enthusiast to enjoy. Pelé traps, heads, dribbles and boots the ball across the pages. The creators of this biography, score, indeed.