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'Soccer on Sunday: Magic Tree House #52' by Mary Pope Osborne

Fabulous series -- this book about soccer
courtesy of Random House Children's Books

Soccer on Sunday by Mary Pope Osborne


"Soccer on Sunday," the #52 Magic Tree House book, is now available just in time for summer soccer fun. This is the fourth book of the "Merlin Mission" series-within-a-series in which Merlin and Morgan le Fay, a magical librarian from the legendary realm of Camelot, have sent Jack and his sister Annie to meet four "great" people from history and find out each person's secret of greatness.

So far, Jack and Annie have visited Alexander the Great, Harry Houdini, and Florence Nightingale, and now they will visit Mexico City to see Péle the Great when he played for Brazil in the World Cup in 1970. Both Osborne and the illustrator did their homework regarding Mexico City in the 70's. The descriptions of the metro and the illustrations of Paseo de la Reforma are spot on -- take it from someone who lived in Mexico City in the 70's.

As in all the books, Jack and Annie interact with the real people, not just the "great" people, and here they meet Roberto, a ten-year-old who is attending the game for his birthday. He is alone because, as he explains to Jack and Annie, his family could only afford one ticket. He is going and will relay all the excitement and experiences of the event to his family on his return.

It turns out that magic provides the best tickets, and Jack and Annie have tickets close to the field. Roberto is not so lucky. His ticket is in the "nosebleed" section. Annie generously offers to trade her ticket for Roberto's so that he can experience the game close up.

They story is lovely and filled with Jack and Annie, who always try to do the right thing. Osborne manages to walk the line of making them good role models, but still realistic and not at all "goody-goody."

There is the companion book "Soccer," the nonfiction book about the history of soccer, the rules, great players, and more. As a teacher, I love the Magic Tree House series because of the combination of fiction and nonfiction. Enticing children to become interested in a topic through a story and then providing them with nonfiction information about that topic is a wonderful way to get students excited about learning.

Why 5 stars? Because kids love the Magic Tree House series.

Please note: This review is based on the final paperback books provided by the publisher, Random House, for review purposes.

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