I received this book about a week ago, and the timing for this surprise delivery was perfect. What the publicists for this book had no way of knowing was that there are only two sports I watch on television, and only every four years, and those are the two I played as a child myself: Swimming and soccer.
So it was that I have been watching each of the major World Cup games and thus a children's book series about kids who play soccer held more than the usual level of interest on me.
It seems that this book series has been a hit in Germany in other nations, and some of the books have even been made into movies. Very interesting and how appropriate considering how, sadly, few Americans seem to care about this game. I'm guessing this book will be much more popular in, say, England, than in the USA.
In either case, it's great timing, having this book released during the World Cup.
The book even has an introduction from soccer star Landon Donovan who says, in part, "The Wild Soccer Bunch is a fun read. It brought back great childhood memories. Kids will fall in love with the book and get up and start kicking a ball around. I'm a huge fan of The Wild Soccer Bunch!"
I quickly arranged for an email interview with the books' author, Joachim Masannek, who is himself, of course, in South Africa to watch the World Cup in person. Color me jealous.
How did you come up with this idea for the series? How much of it is drawn from your real life experiences as a soccer coach?
Twelve years ago, I started to coach my two sons' — Marlon and Leon — teams. They were 7 and 6 years old at the time. They played on a team of a little village and dreamed that they could become FC Bayern Munich players.
So they decided to get their team black jerseys, a black ball and a special name: The Wild Soccer Bunch. And indeed, when we played against the kids that played on FC Bayern children's club, we beat them.
On the real Wild Soccer team we did a lot of activities besides soccer to get the kids to know each other better. We built a tree house, which later became an integral part of the series and we did the test of courage when the entire team jumped from the bridge into the river.
At that time, friends of mine came to me and asked me if I wanted to write books about this experience. There weren't at the time any new books for boys because publishers in Germany were convinced that boys do not read, and I thought it might be a good idea.