________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 3 . . . . October 5, 2001

cover Great Play, Morgan. (First Novels. The New Series).

Ted Staunton. Illustrated by Bill Slavin.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2001.
61 pp., pbk. & cloth, $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 0-88780-536-1 (pbk.), ISBN 0-88780-537-X (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Soccer stories.
Teamwork (Sports)-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

*** /4


After school, Charlie wants to practice.

"I'll show you some stuff," he says. He does, too, except I can't do it. Charlie zooms: I thud. Charlie shoots. I flub. Charlie dives; I trip. Charlie zig-zags. I get spaghetti legs. Plus, I still hurt all over.

"You're getting it," Charlie says.

No I'm not. I'm panting too hard to say it, though. It's embarrassing.

"I think I got a blister on my foot," I lie.

"It's your shoes," Charlie says, "Don't worry. When you get cleats you'll be tons better."

"Tons." I pretend to agree.

image Morgan and Aldeen Hummel, the Godzilla of Grade Three, return in another comical "First Novel" by the author/illustrator team of Staunton and Slavin. This time, Morgan lets Charlie talk him into joining the soccer team, even though he'd rather munch snacks and play video games. Morgan inadvertently tells Aldeen, and she signs up, too. Pretty soon, the team is mad at Morgan for inviting Aldeen who flattens people with her oversized, spiked soccer shoes and gets fouls that cost them a game. When she takes a turn at goal, she accidentally gives Morgan a chance to head the ball to Charlie for a winning score.

     Kids who have ever shied away from sports will find it easy to identify with non-athletic, out-of-shape Morgan. They'll admire him for trying and respect his sense of commitment. They'll like Charlie for being a loyal friend. And readers will discover there's more to loner Aldeen than "witchy hair" and smudged glasses. Her skills may be rough and her methods somewhat unorthodox, but she shows signs of becoming a team player. All the characters have a natural credibility that makes them memorable.

     This story has a healthy quota of action, conflict, and humour in the true-to-life dialogue. The choice of first person, present tense keeps readers close to the characters and firmly caught up in the plot. The ten tightly-written chapters with large print, as well as the sports theme, should appeal to reluctant readers. Slavin's cartoon-like sketches add laughs. This is a good read-aloud, with opportunities to discuss sportsmanship and fair play.


Gillian Richardson is a former teacher-librarian, and published children's writer of fiction and nonfiction, living in BC.

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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364