Picture books should be well-illustrated, interesting and possess plenty of wit. Richard Brassey’s The Story of the World Cup is the ideal concoction of all three – keeping this football aficionado torn between genuine curiosity and laughter. When we consider that World Cup fever will soon be sweeping the nation ahead of this summer’s tournament in Brazil, this simple book also has something else very much on its side, impeccable timing.
Football is ingrained in British culture and for many households it has even become a way of life, but the brilliance of this book is that not only will the pages be devoured by ‘footie families’ across the country but literally anyone can enjoy it.
The images are colourful and the layout reminiscent of a comic book; a style very much in keeping with Brassey’s previous non-fiction books for children, which include The Story of the Olympics, Nessie and the Loch Ness Monster and the Tes/Saltire Society Award-winning The Story of Scotland.
The pages are jam-packed with information about the iconic tournament and all the wonderful stories that have surrounded the Jules Rimet Trophy over the years, from Pickles the dog discovering it under a holly bush in 1966 to the novelty of Chris Waddle’s questionable mullet in the 80’s. This book also really excels in the picture/words balance, where despite being a never-ending lagoon of historical fact, the humour retains enough simplicity to encourage youngsters to read independently.
This book could really inspire a great connection between parents and their little ones – if they already love their football then not long after reading this, you’ll have them bombarding you with questions about whether you remember Roberto Baggio or recall when Maradona scored that infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in 1986. Boys in particular seem to have an affinity for facts and this interaction could be a learning experience for you all. Not to mention, for those parents who aren’t as comfortable reading the generic topics usually found in children’s picture books, this might be a pretty useful starting point.
Perfect for reluctant readers, perhaps especially those young lads who are ‘too cool to read’ – The Story of the World Cup has achieved that great blend of warm visuals and educational value. The World Cup may not officially begin until June 12th with Brazil hosting Croatia, but as far as I’m concerned, this book signals that the countdown has already begun.