Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Review: Soccer World Spain: Explore the World Through Soccer

Soccer World Spain: Explore the World Through Soccer
By: Ethan Zohn and David Rosenberg
Published by: Nomad Press
Date: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-9363133-6-5 (English)
         978-1-9363137-4-7 (Spanish)
Price: $14.95
Ages: 7-10
Rating:  5 stars
Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker

Synopsis: Do you know which country won the 2010 FIFA World Cup in soccer?  If you are a die-hard soccer fan, you probably could answer, “Spain!”  In this book, the reader can join professional soccer player Ethan Zohn as he continues his around-the-world adventures using soccer as a conduit for learning.  While in Spain, he and his young friend Javier experience La Boqueria, one of the largest outdoor markets in Europe, along with other fascinating sites at Barcelona; travel to the capital Madrid for the El Clasico soccer game between the FC Barcelona and the Madrid Real at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium; fly to Palos to see the Iberian lynx, one of the rarest animals on the planet, at the nearby Donana National Park; take a hike in the Picos Mountains of northern Spain; and visit the Canary Islands.  Can you remember what famous historical event took place at Palos in 1492?

Overall thoughts:   Author Ethan Zohn, born in 1973, was a soccer goalkeeper at Vassar College, and played professionally for the Hawaii Tsunami and Cape Cod Crusaders of the United Soccer Leagues and in Zimbabwe, Africa, for Highlanders FC.  As a contestant on Survivor: Africa, the third season of the reality TV series Survivor, he won $1,000,000 and donated some of his winnings to co-found Grassroot Soccer whose goal is to "mobilize the global soccer community to combat the AIDS epidemic in Africa."  Shortly afterwards he was hired by ESPN to serve as a sideline reporter for the US National Team's matches in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.  In 2005, Zohn began to co-host the Metro Soccer Report (later renamed MSG Soccer Report) on the MSG Network, a weekly show dedicated to Red Bull New York (formerly MetroStars) of Major League Soccer, and as of April 2006, he hosted FC Fox on the Fox Soccer Channel.  In 2008 Zohn hosted Earth Tripping, a six-episode series, in which he demonstrated how to be "an earth-friendly traveler," visiting New York City, Mexico City, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Santiago, Chile, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.  The following year, he was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called CD20-positive Hodgkin's lymphoma but is now in remission.
Ethan is also co-writing a series of children’s books that takes young readers around the world where they can learn about geography, history, and culture. Two previous books in the series are set in Mexico and South Africa.  In addition to a lot of interesting background information about Spain, there is a list of “Words 2 Know” where terms used in the text are defined at nearly every opening.  Several multi-curricular activities are included, such as learning how to say “My name is” in some of the different languages of Spain, creating your very own community, burying a time capsule, building a fantastic sand drip castle, experimenting with electricity, doing a rock art project, and making a volcano that actually erupts with “lava,” that relate to language, social studies, science, and art.  On the last page there are a glossary and an index to increase the usefulness of this fun book as a learning tool.  It is a great way to introduce soccer loving youngsters to Spain and its culture.

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