HOW DID A POOR BOY named Edson - who kicked rocks down roads and dribbled balls made from rags - go on to become the greatest soccer player of all time? While other kids memorized letters, Edson memorized the scores of soccer matches. And when Edson finally played in a youth soccer tournament in the town of Bauru, Brazil, he focused on only one thing from the moment the whistle blew: the goal. Here is the story of the boy who overcame tremendous odds to become the world champion soccer star Pelé.
AGERANGE: Ages 4 to 8.
The husband-and-wife team of James E. Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome, who have previously collaborated on profiles of Satchel Paige and Major Taylor, now focus their attention on the childhood of another athlete of color, Edson de Nascimento, better known as Pelé. The Brazilian soccer superstar's story begins in a small town, where Edson's mind wanders to soccer plays instead of school assignments. Soon enough, his ragtag team (known as the "Shoeless Ones" because they cannot afford athletic footwear) gains notice, especially when its young star takes charge. A brief afterward puts Pelé's story in the context of his later soccer career, but the heart of the story lies in Pelé's continued connection to his family and his roots even as he begins to realize his soccer dreams. James E. Ransome's brilliantly-colored oil paintings, imbued with the hues of the Brazilian flag, add excitement and visual interest to the narrative, which will likely be of high interest to young aspiring soccer stars. Reviewer: Norah Piehl