Javaherbin, Mina. (2010). GOAL! A. G. Ford. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
Literary Genre: Multicultural/International (Picture Book)
Ajani has to get water from the well before dark, but his homework is finished, so first it’s soccer time! Ajani and his friends must be careful as they play soccer because the streets are not safe in South Africa. When bullies come their way, Ajani and his friends are clever. The combination of repetitive phrases and detailed illustrations of bright blues and warm browns bring soccer to life and successfully highlights its power to bond the friends together during hard times.
I enjoyed this story because it allows readers to experience what it is like to be a young boy in South Africa. Ajani goes to school and plays with friends, but he also has responsibilities that most young boys in the United States do not, such as getting clean water and looking out for bullies that roam the streets. The illustrations represent a poor, dusty shantytown in South Africa; the boys have dirty, torn clothing; which is an accurate account of the environment and clothing of the area. Javaherbin provides an Author’s Note that provides more background on the significance of soccer. The note shares that the people of South Africa (and other countries) play soccer in spite of war, poverty, bully rulers, unsafe alleys, revolution, and hardship. “They play to stay connected. They play to stay children. They play to stay human. But mostly, they play to play.” Javaherbin does an excellent job of helping readers understand how this sport influences and inspires the people of South Africa this is what multicultural literature is intended to do.