Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Eddy Simon
Illustrator: Vincent Brascaglia
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
The famous soccer player, nicknamed Pelé, is born October 23, 1940, the very day his family gets electricity in their home near Sao Paulo, Brazil. Pelé’s father had been a pro soccer player before a knee injury ended his career, and he drills his son daily in soccer techniques. Pelé’s first soccer ball is one fashioned from rags bundled tightly together to form a ball. He practices soccer for hours every day, and by the time he is fifteen, he is given his first professional contract. Soccer becomes his escape from the slums. He travels the world playing soccer and wins three world cup medals. He is considered to be the greatest soccer player in the world as he scores over 1279 goals in 1363 games spanning twenty-two years. He becomes a great humanitarian, a Good Will Ambassador for UNICEF, and a man who loves working with youth. He calls soccer ‘the beautiful game’ because it brings people of all colors, nationalities and languages together.
This biographical graphic novel was written by Eddy Simon, a French writer, and illustrated by Vincent Brascaglia, a comic artist, who draws for the French magazine Okapi. The book depicts Pelé’s life in chronological order from childhood to retirement. It discusses being a black athlete in the sixties and seventies and details some of his most famous games, his great love of country, and his exemplary humanitarian efforts. Though the novel is supposedly geared for children in elementary school, it shows all aspects of Pelé’s life, including his illegitimate children and unfaithfulness to his wife. In addition to his weakness for women, it includes some swear words and describes and shows violence on the field. Though the comic format of this book might attract grade school children, it may be more appropriate for readers in middle school and older.
*Contains mild sexual content, moderate violence, and mild language.