Author: Yelchin, Eugene
When twelve-year-old Arcady is sent to a children's home after his parents are declared enemies of the state in Soviet Russia, soccer becomes a way to secure extra rations, respect, and protection but it may also be his way out if he can believe in and love another person--and himself.
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|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.00
Points: 3.0 Quiz: 170322
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 3.50
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 66233
Kirkus Reviews (05/15/14)
School Library Journal (07/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/12/14)
The Hornbook (00/11/14)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 09/01/2014 Yelchin follows up his Newbery Honor Book, Breaking Stalin’s Nose (2011), with another novel set in Soviet Russia. Twelve-year-old Arcady lives in an orphanage that houses the children of parents who are considered “enemies of the people.” He exploits his soccer prowess to win extra bread rations until the day that inspector Ivan Ivanych brings him home. Initially, Arcady is convinced that Ivan is a coach who only values him for his soccer skills, and he is initially blind to Ivan’s yearning for companionship following the death of his wife, who was also deemed an “enemy of the people.” Organized into short chapters, this swiftly moving, lucid novel tells an affecting tale, illustrated with often chilling drawings of Soviet life. Yelchin effectively weaves in historical truths throughout Arcady’s first-person narration, which reflects the boy’s constrained understanding of his world. Also notable is the masterful twist of the expected sports cliché of prizing the team over the individual, as Arcady’s naive yearning to stand out as a great soccer player butts up against Ivan’s pained understanding of Soviet expectations for conformity. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 07/01/2014 Gr 5–8—After his parents are accused of being enemies of the state, 12-year-old Arcady grew up being carted from orphanage to orphanage in Soviet Russia. Although Arcady hasn't had a great childhood, he is great at soccer. In fact, his soccer skills are his ticket out of the orphanage when soft-hearted schoolteacher-turned-orphanage-inspector, Ivan Ivanych, sees Arcady play on an inspection and decides to adopt him. Believing the inspector is actually recruiting youth players for the Soviet's greatest team —the Red Army—in disguise, Arcady calls his new benefactor Coach, and treats him like one, always trying to impress Coach with his skills. Ivan lives up to his new title, creating a youth soccer team just for Arcady to play on. Through this team, Arcady finds that he and Coach are more alike than he originally thought, he learns the true colors of the communist attitude, and he finds his and Ivan's next ticket out of exile: a tryout for the real Red Army soccer team. In tune with his Newbery Honor book, Breaking Stalin's Nose (Holt, 2011), Yelchin's latest features quick and easy chapters, stimulating, true-to-life characters, and beautiful, mood-setting illustrations. Although a rough knowledge of Soviet Russia would help readers understand Arcady's world from the get-go, a foreword and author's note orient readers outright. Kids can also infer context from Arcady's own growing understanding of his country's situation. This title is a great suggestion for those who enjoy the soccer stories by Matt Christopher, historical fiction, and war stories.—Brittany Staszak, Glencoe Public Library, IL - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.