Footballs have feelings, too! This is not the only lesson learned in this short but nonetheless wonderful book. It’s not only for children!
This is a short book with wonderful illustrations, which makes an it ideal book for children to indulge reading in. Yet, is it a children’s book? Yes. It is written in comprehensible language and contains all ingredients for a book aimed at children: the kids, although initially regarded as a nuisance by the adults in this story turn out to be the heroes of the book; not just because they come to the rescue but also because they show that they are better at football than their fathers. It is also worth a read for adults.
The story is short and quickly told. Two villages – tellingly named Kickford and Goalbridge respectively – engage in an annual football derby, the Silver Cup. Since the men playing are treating the ball not in the best manner, the ball decides that he has had enough of this maltreatment. He takes a bald taken free kick to lift off and stay in the air much to the annoyance of the players and the referee who is the most hapless impersonation of a match official. In come the kids. The son of Kickford’s captain O’Kay, William plays with his mates football with the old ball of his dad on a bumpy pitch on the edge of one village. Since the match ball is lost, captain O’Kay demands his son to surrender his ball for the game to be continued. As a reward the kids are offered places in the mayor’s box. However, the men being men, the replacement ball, after hearing his airborne colleague complaining about the players, found his shiny mate has a point, decides to stay in the clouds. All attempts to get either ball back to earth, by way of getting the firemen and the air force in, fail spectacularly. In the ensuing chaos, the referee leaves the pitch, followed by the players and the village officials. Of course, the balls descend once the children ask them to do so. The kids take the deserted pitch much to the joy of the spectators. The game ends with a miraculous 24-all draw but that is of secondary importance since the match was of a high quality, much better than their fathers could ever present. The difference: instead of hoofing the ball up and down the pitch, the kids pass the ball around the pitch; in other words the moral of this story: treat the ball nicely and it will do as you wish. This message needs no further explanation or interpretation. It was clear in 1939 and it is clear and valid today.
Both, Jan Le Witt and George Him were of Polish origin and have met in a Warsaw café in 1933 forging a creative partnership that saw them working for various publishing houses. Their move to London in 1937 was sponsored by the Victoria & Albert Museum. This book was originally published in 1939 and has been reissued in 2015 by V&A Publishing. In doing so they have unearthed a gem which will grace any book shelf.