________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 8 . . . . December 7, 2007


How Soccer Works.

Keltie Thomas. Illustrated by Stephen MacEachern.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2007.
64 pp., pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $21.95 (hc.) .
ISBN 978-1-897349-01-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-897349-00-7 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Soccer-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Catherine Howett and Alexandra Norris.

*** /4


In ancient Egypt, large numbers of people sometimes kicked a ball around farmers’ fields to till the soil for crops. In China, ancient warriors played tsu chu, where players tried to score by kicking a ball through a hole in a net. In Japan, Mexico, Greece, and Rome, ancients also kicked up the dust with ball games.

In North America, First Nations played pasuckuakohowog, which means “they gather to play ball with the foot,” and the Inuit played Aqsaqtuk, which means “soccer on ice.” In Britain, whole villages played against each other in rough-and tumble contests that rolled pell-mell through streets, fields, hedges and streams. “Mob football” wreaked so much damage that British and Scottish kings banned it.

In 1863, eleven British clubs got together and wrote down the first set of rules. Those rules evolved into the modern game of soccer that the whole world knows and loves today.


How Soccer Works, by Keltie Thomas, is a well organized book that packs a lot of information into a bold, image-laden package. It is a good general overview of the game of soccer: the equipment required, the rules of play, strategy and skill-building tips. The book also covers a lot of the history and the international scope of the game - including biographical information about famous players.

     At eight chapters long, this is an engaging book for younger readers with lots of bright colours, photographs and graphics. The dense informational text is broken up by clear headers, and accompanying material is presented in sidebars and boxes with different coloured backgrounds. I was particularly impressed that almost equal numbers of male and female players were shown in the images and showcased in the biographical sections. There is a well laid out table of contents, a good glossary of terms and an index of players’ names.


     This is a fun book with a format geared towards the younger end of the recommended age range. From an artist’s point of view, it is busy and slightly scattered. If the format were more refined, it might appeal to a broader age range.

     I like that the book offers information on the basics along with a bit of international gossip - a major part of the culture of the sport of soccer. It is very current, even including a discussion of the Zinedine Zidane incident during the World Cup. As far as the content, it is quite informative. I feel the information it contains could be valuable to anyone entering the sport - including beginner adults.

     One thing that stood out for me is the equipment page where it shows the newest 'digs' out there. Let’s remember that the splendor of the sport and the reason for its mass appeal is the improvisational spirit. Soccer is a sport which anyone from any financial background can play, in any kind of space available. By creating a set structure for playing, someone new to the sport might read this and feel that the only way they can play is if they have an appropriate shoes, ball and so on. This is not the case; the versatility of the sport might be better recognized and portrayed.

     Soccer draws people of every age group as beginners, and this book would serve as a good solid introduction. Overall, if I had a player on my team who wanted to learn more or if I was suggesting a gift for an aspiring player, I would recommend this book.


Catherine Howett, a Research and Resource Centre Coordinator and advocate for school libraries, lives in Vancouver, BC.

Alexandra Norris is an art student at Emily Carr Institute who played soccer at the provincial level while in secondary school. She now coaches a junior boy’s soccer team in her spare time.

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

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