Happy Like Soccer

written by Maribeth Boelts

Available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Local Bookstore


  • A Junior Library Guild selection
  • A Society of Illustrators Original Art Show Selection
  • Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices List
  • A New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection
  • 100 Magnificent Children’s Books of 2012 selection
  • A 2015 Elementary Connecticut Nutmeg Book Award nominee


Nothing makes Sierra happy like soccer. Her shoes have flames as she spins the ball down the spread-out sea of grass. But nothing makes her sad like soccer, too, because the restaurant where her auntie works is busy on game days and she can't take time off to watch Sierra play. On game days, her auntie helps Sierra get ready and tells her, "Play hard and have fun." And Sierra does, but she can't help wishing she had someone there to root for her by name, and not just by the number on her uniform. With honesty and rare subtlety, author Maribeth Boelts and illustrator Lauren Castillo portray an endearing character in a moving, uplifting story that touches on the divides children navigate every day- and remind us that everyone needs someone to cheer them on from the sidelines. A warmhearted story about a young girl who finds a way to bring together the two things that make her most happy- soccer and her family.
A thought-provoking read-aloud.
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
Castillo’s stylized, expressive watercolor illustrations effectively depict the bleakness of Sierra’s situation and her small triumph. Realistic without being overly sentimental, Boelts’ uplifting story realizes the impact of family, community, and even a little cheering in a child’s life.
— Booklist
This tender story, written in lyrical text, perfectly blends the protagonist’s joy at playing her favorite sport with the loneliness of being the new kid in unfamiliar territory. Castillo’s muted colors reflect the narrator’s thoughtful mood.
— School Library Journal