Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Max Explains Everything: Soccer Expert by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Deborah Hocking

The curly-haired expert is back to explain soccer! He's an expert, since he's been playing it for three whole weeks! Hilarity ensues as Max puts his own particular spin on the game. Max isn't particularly... focused and kids who have a hard time concentrating, or taking a game seriously, will certainly appreciate Max's antics as he watches a butterfly in the team huddle, empties his pockets as the game starts, and misses the ball while watching bugs and examining dandelions.

Max has no problem being pulled out of the game - sometimes you have to cheer on your teammates after all! He's having so much fun, that he almost forgets something important... snack! Meanwhile, of course, his teammates and the fans are yelling at Max to kick the ball as it zips by him into the goal. Although his teammates look disappointed, they quickly cheer up as they shakes hands with the other team (Max introduces himself), and give him friendly smiles as he leaves, hands full of dandelions and a blanket tied around his shoulders like a cape.

While this may be a bit idyllic, not to mention unrealistic (I suspect that even a team that's very laid-back about sports isn't going to be quite so forgiving of someone like Max who is completely off in his own world for most of the game) it's a nice picture of a team playing together just for fun. Although the coach and teammates get a little exasperated with Max at times, they are always kind and Max clearly never realizes he's any different than his teammates. A range of skin-tones and genders is shown in the team and the coach is an older woman with white hair.

Verdict: Both sports fans and non-sporty kids will get a kick out of this book, laughing at Max's antics and unique perspective, and perhaps take their own sports experiences a bit more lightly, as well as being accepting of kids who aren't as focused on the game.

ISBN: 9781101996409; Published February 2019 by Putnam; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

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