________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 26 . . . . March 12, 2010


Trading Goals. (Sports Stories).

Trevor Kew.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2009.
144 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55277-424-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55277-425-0 (hc.).

Grades 3-7 / Age 8-12.

Review by Lisa O'Hara.

**** /4

Trading Goals is a great story to which many Canadian children will be able to relate. It's about soccer, moving schools, making friends, keeping up with old friends, racial prejudice, and more. Vicky's mom gets a new and better job at the University of British Columbia, and so they pack up and move to a new area. Of course, the move means a new school for Vicky. She has played soccer ever since she can remember and has been the keeper for her old school, Killarney. Now she's going to have to try out for the team at her new school and compete for the keeper's job with her nemesis, Britney. Not only does Britney play for the BC provincial team, she is blond and rich and anything but nice. She yells at her teammates when they make mistakes and makes racial slurs whenever she can get away with it, but Vicky thinks that she has learned a lot of these behaviours from her father, a red-faced bully who is always shouting at the players, referees and coaches from the sidelines.

Marjan put her hands over her mouth, horrified. Then she started apologizing to everyone: Britney, her teammates, the coaches, the referee.

"That's okay," said the ref, winking at the distraught little defender. "It's a penalty shot, but I'm not going to give you a yellow card. Obviously unintentional."

Vicky giggled, but not everyone saw the funny side. It looked as if steam was about to burst from the top of Britney's head. And when Huskies #10 lined up for the penalty shot and slotted the ball into the top corner, Britney let loose on Marjan.

"You're the worst soccer player I've ever seen!" she bellowed, then turned to the ref. "Give her a red card, we'd be better off without her!" The ref looked like he was strongly considering giving Britney a read card.

The game ended seconds later, but Britney's tirade didn't end until Coach Hadlington threatened to sit her out for the rest of the season if she said another word. Vicky prayed the keeper would be stupid enough to do it, but she knew that Britney would just wait.

She was right. In the change room Britney said something so awful that Vicky wondered if she'd actually heard it.

"Too bad your parents don't make you wear a veil and hood, Hazemi. It'd be nice to have something to hide behind now, eh?" She looked around for laughs.

     When Britney finally pushes everyone too far and is suspended from school, Vicky gets her chance to play keeper for Dunbar. However, Britney isn't done with Vicky yet. She sets her up to be humiliated at the school dance and then transfers to Vicky's old school where not only does she get to be the keeper, but her father becomes the coach! The two teams meet in the last game of the season and... I won't spoil the ending, but it's a good one.

     Kew touches on many issues in this story without being heavy-handed. Vicky's mother is an immigrant from China who works as a cleaner and who still speaks mostly Chinese at work although Vicky has never learned the language. Vicky begins to learn about Chinese immigration to Canada, and, when she talks to her mother about it, she learns a great deal. Vicky thinks of herself as a Canadian, not as Chinese, and finds that she, herself, is holding on to some stereotypes that aren't true. Britney's racial slurs are troubling, but Kew makes the connection between Britney's actions and her father very clear, showing that there is often a reason why children act the way they do. Kew's descriptions of the soccer matches are wonderful, and readers will feel involved in the match as though they were right there. He deals with Vicky's old friendships and new friendships and the way that she feels torn between the two in a sensitive manner that will allow children who have been through a similar experience to identify with Vicky's feelings.

     Overall, Trading Goals is a great book for children in this age group whether they are soccer fans or not.

Highly Recommended.

Lisa O'Hara is a mother of three and a librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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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