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Review of The Field

The Field
by Baptiste Paul; illus. by Jacqueline Alcántara
Primary    NorthSouth    32 pp.    g
3/18    978-0-7358-4312-7    $17.95

The place: a verdant Caribbean islandscape. The day’s activity for the community’s children: a pickup game of futbol (soccer). Does it matter that the futbol field is a converted cow pasture? Does it matter that some of the players aren’t wearing shoes? Does it matter that, mid-game, it starts to pour? “No way,” as the text emphatically answers. Children everywhere will relate to the participants’ devotion to and love of the world’s most popular sport, as they “play on” despite slipping, sliding, and falling in the mud (“belly flop!…Ou byen? You okay? Mwen byen. I’m good”). Paul’s universal story is made particular by the specificity of his setting and language (a glossary of Creole words and phrases is appended). The staccato text (“I’m open!” “Pass!” “Shoot!” “Almost”) perfectly captures the intensity and forward propulsion of the action, culminating in an ecstatic cry of “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!” as the sun comes out. Vibrant illustrations, full of movement and saturated with color, match the vigor and excitement of the text. The day winds down with the children heading home to their impatient mamas, baths, and bed — happy to say “Bonswè. Good night” in the knowledge that the game isn’t finished, only paused. An appended note describes the author’s childhood in Saint Lucia; the challenges faced by children such as those in the story; the Creole language; and his continuing love of the “beautiful game.”

From the May/June 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Making a Difference.

Martha V. Parravano About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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