Goal! written by Mina Javaherbin illustrated by A.G. Ford was our BLG read aloud this week. Thanks to Harpreet for sharing it with us!
Set in South Africa, this book tells the story of good friends, a new soccer ball and the bullies that threaten their freedom to play. Ajani has won a brand new federations sized ball for being the best reader in class. He brings this ball to play with his friends. How thrilled all of the boys are to not have to play with their old plastic ball! However, the streets where they play are not safe and one boy at a time must take a turn standing guard on the roof. When bullies show up, the boys are able to outsmart them, concealing their new ball. Their old ball is taken but when the bullies are gone, the game can continue!
This book is universally appealing because of the celebration of play and, of course, of a favourite sport played all across the world: soccer/football. Kids were instantly connecting to make-shift goals, scoring, racing after the ball and playing with friends.
The illustrations are gorgeous. You can feel the bright African sun, the dusty streets and the joy and concentration as the boys play.
My favourite lines of the book:
When we play, we forget to worry.
When we run, we are not afraid.
Student reviewers respond:
Shereese: I thought it was smart when they hid the football in the bucket so the bullies wouldn’t break the ball. He was pretending to cry but why did they pretend to cry? For the author: Do you like your book?
Kevin: Why do the bullies want to steal the ball? Why do they need to use the buckets as goals? Where did the bullies come from? Some boys have flip flops and some have shoes. My favourite is scoring the goal!
Pheonix: Bullies are so mean.
Andrew: Why did the bullies steal the ball? Why did the bullies didn’t want them to play football? I connected because I play soccer with my friends. In the story the boys use buckets for goals and I use a sweater for goals.
Kala: How come you didn’t make the kid fall down? Is this story true? Why did you make them pretend to cry?
Kassidy: Why did the boy carry a bucket? Why did the bullies steal the balls? Why is the street bad for the boys? I like when the boy pretends to cry. Why did the bullies take the old ball? How did the illustrator make the boys so real? How did you come up with this story
Ashley: My favourite part was that the bully boys were taking the old ball and the good nice boys were happy because they had a new ball with them. I do not like the mean boys. I like that the nice boys were so happy that they can play soccer now. The pictures are so so nice. I am feeling happy that the nice boys can feel happy. I am feeling happy because they can be playing soccer and they still have a soccer ball.
Giovanni: Football is soccer. The kids had fun playing football. They had a new ball.
Heman: My favourite part is when the boys hide the new ball from the bullies. The bullies was riding bikes. The boys were playing football. They used upside down buckets for the net. Some of the boys were wearing flipflips. Why did the bullies steal the ball from the boys?
Arianne: In Africa they play football. We call it soccer. The boy won the new ball for being the best reader.
Kelvin: My favourite part was the kids trick the bullies and take the ball. The kids faked cry. They wait for the bullies to get far far away to play football again.
Vicky: When I listened, I was thinking about the boys playing soccer. In Africa, they call it football. My favourite part was the boy got first prize for reading. I did not like the bullies. Harpreet, did you like this book so you picked this book?
Brian: My favourite part was when the kid scored a goal. Why did the big bullies take their old ball away. My Dad taught me that football means soccer.
Makes me cry to see this, I’m so humbled by you beautiful readers who shared your thoughts. Thank you for taking time and blogging about my book. Best. Mina
We loved your book! The students were very inspired to talk about how we all should always have opportunities to play and feel safe. As their teacher, I loved listening to the language of your story and rereading sections aloud to the children as we talked about specific sections of the story. Thank you for such a beautiful book!
Oh those students are so smart. Who’s their teacher I wonder? 🙂
Indeed “opportunities to play” are sacred and a right. Playing is sacred. Please tell them to never stop playing. If we don’t play, humanity won’t evolve. If we don’t play bullies will win. It’s by playing that we learn to be creative and think for innovative solutions to outsmart the bullies of all creed.
I believe in that.
I will certainly pass on your message and allow it to spark more discussion 🙂
Looks like a beautiful book, ready to share multiple lessons in living for our students, Carrie. I will be sure to share with my school. I have a connection with a former student who is now in Kenya, has begun a school for young girls. Her colleague, now her husband, grew up in Kibera, the biggest slum in Africa (where the school is now-called Shining Hope), & he tells the tale of a soccer ball playing a big part in his wanting to be something different than the usual poor person in his home.
Thanks for sharing this story Linda. I love how children all over the world love soccer – chasing the ball around together – the joy of movement, play, speed. This book by Mina Javaherbin is just beautiful. Illustrations are stunning and the text is lyrical and reads beautifully. I think you would love it.
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