A Winning Goal

By Laurie Calkhoven

Illustrated by Arcana Studios

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As part of the “Innerstar University” series, A Winning Goal  is about a girls’ soccer team and how teams work. With much of the text written in second person, the reader becomes one of the team and participates in all activities, on and off the field. This approach works well for third grade reading, making the reader feel a part of the story.

The girls start off with a competitive game. The reader is invited to decide to outcome. Next, a friend, Shelby, wants to join the team. Should you support her addition? She needs coaching. Should you help her despite your crazy schedule? You’re in the game. Should you go for the goal or encourage Shelby to take the shot? You’re still overwhelmed. Do you enlist the help of the other girls in a practice game? Or do you just encourage them to get to know Shelby better? When the other team doesn’t play fair, how do you help protect your new player and friend? In the twenty possible endings, there are really no right or wrong decisions.

Reading activities play a big part in the way this book is written. The reader is invited to make a decision on most pages for the direction of the plot. In this way, the reader also learns about decision trees and their place in logic. The characters are well-defined, running the gamut from the always-upbeat Riley to the task-oriented Becca.

The illustrations are a little generic, with all the girls having similar features and physical build. However, the pictures do show what’s happening in the story in an understandable way. They should enable any girl to become the one in the story.

  • Winning GoalTitle: A Winning Goal
  • Author: Laurie Calkhoven
  • Illustrator: Arcana Studios
  • Publisher: American Girl Publishing, Inc., 2011
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Hardcover: 119 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-59369-836-2
  • Genre: Contemporary, Sports, Friendship
  • Lexile Score: 710

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