"There’s always a game of soccer to be played, no matter what."

Recreating the atmosphere of his childhood as seen through street games and activities, new author Paulo Chemane mixes cultures, languages, and media in this colorful children’s offering. Having grown up in Mozambique, which at one time was a colony of Portugal, Chemane has included text in English and Portuguese along with words and phrases in the indigenous African language, Changana. The children on “my street” (minha rua) are seen playing hopscotch, hand games, tug-of-war, and, of course, soccer. An illustration of a kite is accompanied by the poetic observation that “The sky is always shining from flying diamonds.” The author suggests that by playing on the street, children can “be at one with nature” and “feel connected to the mother earth.” This enjoyable collection ends with a song composed by the author entitled “Kids Smile.”

Chemane’s book is both engaging and educational, comprising a perfect read-aloud book for parents helping their offspring grapple with a new language, a pleasant picture book for younger children, and a reminder of the connection between games of childhood then and now, here and there. The author is also the illustrator and has made engaging graphic alterations to his photographs in whole-page depictions of play: a boy rolling a car tire; children sitting around a fire listening to stories about their ancestors; girls singing and clapping. Each picture is elucidated by the simple text in different languages. Now residing in Australia, Chemane expresses his wish to show his children something of his African heritage, though some of his childhood activities, he admits, have been “lost to time.”

As a child, Chemane thought of the environment outside his home as “Fun Street.” Here he has skillfully created a sense of that happy ambience for a new generation transplanted to a new street.

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