Review Blog

Sep 11 2015

The football's revolt by Jan Le Witt and George Him

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2015. ISBN 9781851778478
(Age: 7+) Highly recommended. Football. Soccer. Community. The design duo, Jan de Witt and George Him arrived in London from Poland in 1937, and here they wrote and illustrated this children's book, while working for the Victoria and Albert Museum, and designing posters and advertising material for Guinness and the Festival of Britain. The Victoria and Albert Museum has recently republished a number of books first appearing in the 1940's which testify to the timeless appeal of good, well illustrated books.
In this, the football is sick of being pounded by the teams at Kickford and Goalbridge, time honoured rivals. Every year it is the same match: both towns vie for the win with each community filling the stadium in support of their home team. After one particularly vicious kick, the ball decides to stay in the air with hilarious results. The communities try a variety of ways of bringing the ball back to earth but with varying results until a solution is found by the youngest members of the towns.
This lovely edition reveals the wonderful illustrations of the first edition in 1939, with its reduced palette of colours, its stylised representations of people and backgrounds, its very funny look at the crowds of football fans. The footballers are shown in their acrobatic glory while the fireman teeters on the end of the ladder trying to retrieve the ball. The story and illustrations will cause readers to laugh out loud at the antics of the townsfolk and the football.
Others published by the V and A are included on the back cover, and deserve a new outing as does this. The story is timeless, the illustrations redolent of the times but still fresh and insightful. This book is lovely to hold with its dust cover and heavier paper inside the hardback edition, reprising the sorts of books that children in the 1940's valued.
Fran Knight

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