________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 7 . . . . November 23, 2007


Falling Star. (Sports Stories).

Robert Rayner.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2007.           
131 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).           
ISBN 978-1-55028-970-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55028-971-8 (hc.).

Grades 3-8 / Ages 8–13.

Review by Ruth Sands.

**** /4


When the game ended with the score level, Mr. Field greeted his team with, “We got lucky.”

“I guess so,” said Shay with a wry grin.

“Why were you playing so carefully, all of you? Why didn’t you play your usual game? I said to just go play, and to run and hustle.”
Shay looked around at his teammates. “It didn’t seem right, scrambling and hustling after the ball, like we were in a fool-around practice game. Now we’re champions—sort of—we should look like champions, shouldn’t we?”

“You should look like yourselves. And play like yourselves. We won our division because we played with such zest and fun. Now it’s almost like we’ve forgotten how to enjoy our game.”

He surveyed the serious faces of his team and added, “Come on, guys. It’s not the end of the world. Let’s try to play our old game against Long Island tomorrow.”

“We’ll have to play better—now that we have to win the next two games,” said Shay.

“That’s all of us play better,” Steve said with a glance at Edison, who was standing at the edge of the group, leaning against the van. Steve’s shirt and shorts were covered in mud, and his knees were red and raw from the falls he had taken. His nose had a crust of blood under it, and his forehead and eye were bruised. Edison’s knees were clean, and his shorts and shirt looked as if they’d just come out of the wash. Edison turned away and rested his head on the side window, glad of the cool glass against his forehead.

Mr. Grease, who’d been cleaning the windshield, walked around to him and said, “Okay?” Edison nodded. Mr. Grease grunted. After a pause, he nodded at Mr. Field. “Ask him about pressure.” He grunted again and returned to his window cleaning.

Robert Rayner’s book, Falling Star is about a young boy who is a superstar soccer player, but who has somehow lost his nerve. Readers are introduced to the main character of Edison Flood as he prepares to kick in a goal in his last game with his current school. Edison talks readers through how easy the shot should be, how easy it has always been for him, but somehow he misses the goal. Readers also discover in the first couple of pages that this isn’t a completely new experience for Edison; rather, it is becoming the norm. Somehow Edison has lost his nerve for the game he has always loved. When his mother gets a new media job in a small town called Brunswick Valley, Edison sees it as an opportunity to regain his confidence and figure out why his game has gone so bad. He thinks that no one in the new town will know who he is or what he is capable of, and this excites him. The excitement only lasts until his mother informs him that he’s signed up to play with the school champions and that his last game of the tour will be his tryout for a prestigious private school. The problems start almost immediately with his new team as Edison becomes competition for their best player. Edison tries everything he can to stay out of the limelight only to do more damage than if he’d tried his best. Slowly, with the help of his new team, Edison learns that it’s not his talent that he’s lost but rather his love for the game. The pressures of always trying to be the best are what are hampering his abilities. Once he decides to play for the fun of the game rather than winning or earning a place in the private school, Edison becomes once again the superstar he has always been.

     Rayner has done a wonderful job of portraying the stress of childhood superstardom. Edison struggles with all the normal woes of being the new kid in school as well as being an expected superstar. His eventual rebellion against his mother’s goals for him comes across as very realistic and possible. The story moves well, and the dialogue is very natural rather than preachy. The characters in the book are very believable, and Rayner’s descriptions of each of the soccer games are so well-done that even the most novice sports fan can follow the action. Edison is a kid that every reader can look up to and identify with. Everyone experiences pressure in some aspect of life, and Edison is a good role-model for children on how to deal with those pressures.

Highly Recommended.

Ruth Sands is a freelance writer from Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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