From his early days playing soccer in the halls of his grandfather's house, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior dreams of becoming a star on his native Brazil's national team, Seleção. With the support of his loving family and his coach, he steadily moves up the ranks, playing in the junior division of Santos, the local soccer club, then traveling to Spain to join Real Madrid. Once in Spain, though, Neymar realizes that the "money, fame, and stardom" that comes with playing in Europe isn't enough to combat the homesickness he feels. Some question his decision to return to Brazil, but his father knows Neymar will be "happier playing with his friends and growing up among family." Soon after turning 17, he is invited to join Santos's major league team (on which Brazilian superstar Pelé used to play), and eventually even his dream of playing for Seleção comes true. Neymar loves playing and adores his family: "I'm a happy player in a happy home, a volcano erupting with joy."
In Neymar: A Soccer Dream Come True, Mina Javaherbin (Goal!; Soccer Star; Elephant in the Dark), herself a soccer fan, takes real biographical information about the Brazilian soccer star, and brings it to life with imagined dialogue. Awash in golds, greens, blues and reds, Paul Hoppe's (The Woods; Metal Man; the Last-but-Not-Least Lola series) illustrations show motion, his thin, broken outlines portraying a joyful, dedicated athlete. In one of his most radiant drawings, Hoppe's illustrative foreshadowing shows the brightly colored boy Neymar dribbling the ball, with his future self--a grayscale ghost--taking the ball and running. Young athletes will be inspired by this story of a boy whose determination and hard work get him exactly where he wants to be. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor