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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Crazy About Soccer! Written by Loris Lesynski and illustrated by Gerry Rasmussen. Annick Press, 2012. $12.95 ages 5 and up

"muscles deflated
legs like spaghetti
cleats full of mud
exhausted and sweaty
sometimes a good game
sometimes the worst
we're tired and grimy
and dying of thirst
but back here tomorrow?"

If you know an avid soccer player, you know the answer! Loris Lesynski seems to know what it is about soccer that makes its fans 'wax poetic'. She fills her newest book with countless descriptive poems about the game, the players, the physiology of it, and even its future. Each of the poems is great fun to read and will conjure up memories of one game or another, one play or another.

As our immigrant population grows in western Manitoba, the number of soccer teams, pitches and games is also on the rise. In the playground across the street from me, players spend two nights and one afternoon each week in competition; evident in the cars arriving, players practicing and then the welcome noise of the game being played. It is wonderful to hear so many out enjoying summer evenings...players and audience alike.

The first poem allows a glimpse at one of the reasons for the game's worldwide don't need much to play:

"Take away the uniforms,
take away the cleats.
Take away the cheering crowd,
take away the seats.

Take away the referee,
take away the net.
Take it all away today -
right away - and yet -

We'll always have the game to play,
positions for us all.
It isn't in the extras.
The game is in the ball."

Gerry Rasmussen's detailed cartoon drawings add the right touch to the book's text. Backgrounds and perspectives change often, and provide humorous interest for all who share the poetry. I love the poor black and white spotted cat who angrily gets booted from a young soccer player's bed as she dreams all things soccer! And, the young and anxious boy who wants to learn all he can about the sport; he's reading a borrowed book while he runs the field:

"But learning how to play like this
is cutting down my speed.

I have to find a better way
to run and also read!"

I would love to share others. There are many that I know you will enjoy when you share them at home, or in class. As September approaches and fall is in the air, I like to remind readers to be thinking about the perfect Christmas gift. If you have a soccer aficionado in your family, or on your list, here's a terrific book to put under the tree!

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