Friday, April 14, 2017

PPBF: Hey, Coach!

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Hey, Coach! by Linda Ashman and Kim Smith
Hey, Coach!

Written by Linda Ashman
Illustrated by Kim Smith

Sterling Children's Books, 2016
Ages 3 and up

Soccer/Sports, Teamwork

Hey, Coach! / Guess what? /  I'm on your team. /  Can we be blue? / No, red. / No, Green!

Let's be TIGERS. / No, the SHARKS. / The UNICORNS. / The BEARS. / The SPARKS!

From the first day of practice to the last game of the season, this lively rhyming text follows a U-6 soccer team during their first year. It would be hard to believe Ashman hadn't been a soccer mom. She certainly must have been paying attention on the sidelines. The rowdy kids in this book are exactly like every player I've ever known. they're constantly yelling for the coach's attention. They make ALL the mistakes of a young team: going the wrong way, whiffing, bunching up. They experience the ups and downs of learning to play, and they do it as a team.

Interior art without the text, by Kim Smith

What I Love:
I loved everything about this book. It actually made me cry while laughing because it is so genuine to what rec league is like. After sixteen straight years (and counting) as soccer parents and about thirteen years of coaching and refereeing, I can rate this book as a must have. In fact, I'm buying it for my daughter's team (sniff. Their final year.) and having all the girls sign it for the coach (my husband.) I guarantee, it'll make him laugh and cry, too.

But nostalgia aside, the rhyme and rhythm are perfect: nothing less than what I would expect from Ashman. The book is more than just a collection of soccer incidents, it has a story and builds with little highs and lows. That's quite a feat for this kind of picture book. Writers have a lot to learn from this book about layering your story over your original idea, about shaping your manuscript, and about using rhyme to move a story forward, not just for decoration. Even the opening lines which I've quoted above, subtly show first the exuberance of the kids, and second, the way they think as individuals at the beginning of the season. I love how the illustrator varied the layout and always draws the kids in motion. She even uses the end papers and scoreboard to tell the story in conjunction with the author's words. A perfect package.

1. Sarah Hall has conducted an interesting interview with author Linda Ashman. And Linda posted an interview with the illustrator from their previous book together. Read it on Picture Book Builders.

Build your own table-top soccer (foosball) from Fatherly,
or this example from Pinterest
2. I've read Linda Ashman's Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. It's an essential part of any PB creator's library.

3. Whether your family plays soccer or not, it's important to get outside and burn energy. Soccer Coach Weekly and SoccerXpert have posted beginner and advanced drills kids can use to get more exercise. Why not make it a family event? Grab some fresh air together!

4. Julie Foudy, soccer star, Olympian, reporter, and speaker, is part of ALA's Library Week. See what she has to say about empowering our young people.

5. Kraft offers a fun tutorial for a rounded soccer ball cake. Or you can buy the Wilton soccer ball cake pan for the whole sphere.

6. Check out these and more related Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Beth
Reviewed by Keila
Three baseball books
Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Clara

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, April 14, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. Wow! Sounds like a winner for little soccer players! Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a perfect spring read! Humorous story with expressive illustrations! I love that your daughter's team is going to sign a copy of this book and give it to your husband at the end of the season. What a grand idea!

  3. I've seen this one. Great review Joanne. Perfect for poetry month.

  4. That is one amazing foosball!

    1. Make sure you check out the tricked out game on Fatherly. Thanks.

  5. I'm going to have to take a look at this one. And I love the table top foosball game!

    1. Thank-you. I prefer the outdoor kind, but this would certainly keep my kiddos busy for awhile.

  6. This brings back memories of my years as a soccer mom. This sounds like a great read & mentor text!


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!