________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 4. . . September 29, 2017


Golden Goal.

David Starr.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2017.
120 pp., trade pbk. & epub, $12.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4594-1202-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4594-1204-0 (epub).

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Deborah Mervold.

**** /4



ďWake up, Dylan! Itís time to get ready for school.Ē Dylan groaned at the sound of his motherís voice. He pulled his pillow over his head, his heart still racing. For just a moment, he had been back in his old life. But the good dream was over. It was replaced by the nightmare he was living six months after his fatherís death.


Dylan, his mother and his father had been living a good life. Dylan went to a good elementary school where families went on holidays and had fancy birthday parties. Dylan was a star on his schoolís soccer team, the Regent Heights Knights, which had won the trophy last year. Dylanís dad was his biggest supporter, but his dad became ill. Though they thought his dad would beat the disease, that didnít happen.

     After his dad passed away, Dylan and his mother had to move from their house to a run-down apartment on the poor side of Vancouver. Dylan had to leave his friends, give up his cell phone and attend a new school that was very different from where he had gone before. Dylan felt like a loser because he had to sign up for the hot lunch program at school. To make matters worse, he was coerced into joining the soccer team and immediately picked a fight with one of the other players. His teammates were from other countries and other cultures.

     In time, and with good advice from his teacher, the principal, the coach who was a police constable and his mom, Dylan begins to see how he can fit in with his new friends. He begins to appreciate true friendship. As the school year progresses, his soccer team plays the other schools in the district. When he plays his old school, he realizes how much winning means to them. His friendship hadnít meant very much to his old friends. When they call him a loser, he is devastated. One of his new classmates reminds Dylan that yes, they are losers not because it is a negative term but they have all lost something. Some of the boys are refugees, some have come from camps, some have escaped horrendous conditions. Together, they find the meaning of friendship and what you can expect your friends will do for you.

     The author has extensive experience with sports, and this comes through very well in the novel. The details about the game are extensive and easy to follow. Soccer enthusiasts and others will enjoy the story. Besides the sport focus, there is a strong theme of friendship and bonds formed with others who have come from war-torn areas of the world.

     The vocabulary is very suitable for the intended audience. Dialogue is extensive and realistic. The fast-paced plot adds to the enjoyment of the story. There are 20 chapters of five to seven pages each. The chapters end at a high point which would make this an excellent read-aloud choice. The reading level of 3.8 would make this an excellent choice for reluctant readers. Golden Goal would appeal to students who like soccer, team sports and realistic fiction.

Highly Recommended.

Deborah Mervold is an educator from Shellbrook, SK, with experience as a high school English teacher and teacher-librarian. Presently she is involved with post-secondary education as a faculty trainer and program development consultant at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

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

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