The Field

Sports fan Baptiste Paul joins forces with Jacqueline Alcántara, winner of the 2016 We Need Diverse Books Campaign Mentorship Award, for this lively picture book debut.

In a series of three panels, a boy in Saint Lucia dribbles a soccer ball up to two friends who are sitting outside and chatting. "Vini! Come! The field calls!" He moves around town, inviting one and all to come play futbol. The two children seen chatting in the first panel now stride across an open field carrying a handmade goal. "Bol. Ball. Soulye. Shoes. Goal. Goal." A cow grazes nearby. On the next spread, one brave child has begun shooing away the doe-eyed cows as more people arrive to play. The colors pop off the page--lush greens, vibrant reds and yellows, sparkling blue water in the background--as teams are chosen. "Ou. Ou. Ou. You. You. You. Friends versus friends. Annou ale! Let's go!"

A boisterous game begins, the figures' edges blurring with their speed. As the children yell to each other--"I'm open!" "Pass!" "Shoot!"--a small crowd gathers to watch. The next full-page spread depicts our original eager-to-play child in mid-stride, looking over his shoulder as the sky greys behind him: "Uh-oh."

The bold colors of Paul's native Saint Lucia dim as driving rain slants across the page. "Fini? Game over?"

"No way. Play on!"

Paul and Alcántara's picture book is full of joy and finishes with an author's note and a glossary of all the Creole words sprinkled throughout. The Field, with its concise and energetic text and dynamic illustrations, is irresistible, unfettered fun. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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