Cover image for Arcady's goal
Arcady's goal
Yelchin, Eugene, author, illustrator.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt and Co., 2014.
Physical Description:
234 pages : illustrations ; 19 cm
When twelve-year-old Arcady is sent to a children's home after his parents are declared enemies of the state in Soviet Russia, soccer becomes a way to secure extra rations, respect, and protection but it may also be his way out if he can believe in and love another person--and himself.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Central Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Audubon Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Clarence Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Clearfield Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Hamburg Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Orchard Park Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

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From Newbery Honor-winning author Eugene Yelchin comes another glimpse into Soviet Russia. For twelve-year-old Arcady, soccer is more than just a game. Sent to live in a children's home after his parents are declared enemies of the state, it is a means of survival, securing extra rations, respect, and protection. Ultimately, it proves to be his chance to leave. But in Soviet Russia, second chances are few and far between. Will Arcady seize his opportunity and achieve his goal? Or will he miss his shot?

This title has Common Core connections.

Author Notes

Eugene Yelchin is the author and illustrator of the Newbery Honor book Breaking Stalin's Nose . Born and educated in Russia, he left the former Soviet Union when he was twenty-seven years old. Mr. Yelchin has also illustrated several books for children, including Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? and Won Ton . He lives in California with his wife and children.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Yelchin follows up his Newbery Honor Book, Breaking Stalin's Nose (2011), with another novel set in Soviet Russia. Twelve-year-old Arcady lives in an orphanage that houses the children of parents who are considered enemies of the people. He exploits his soccer prowess to win extra bread rations until the day that inspector Ivan Ivanych brings him home. Initially, Arcady is convinced that Ivan is a coach who only values him for his soccer skills, and he is initially blind to Ivan's yearning for companionship following the death of his wife, who was also deemed an enemy of the people. Organized into short chapters, this swiftly moving, lucid novel tells an affecting tale, illustrated with often chilling drawings of Soviet life. Yelchin effectively weaves in historical truths throughout Arcady's first-person narration, which reflects the boy's constrained understanding of his world. Also notable is the masterful twist of the expected sports cliché of prizing the team over the individual, as Arcady's naive yearning to stand out as a great soccer player butts up against Ivan's pained understanding of Soviet expectations for conformity.--Barnes, Jennifer Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Inspired by a photograph of the Red Army Soccer Club of 1945, of which his father was captain, Yelchin (Breaking Stalin's Nose) tells the story of 12-year-old orphaned Arcady, whose soccer talent brings him to the attention of Ivan Ivanych, who identifies himself as a soccer coach and adopts the boy. Set in Stalinist Russia, the compact novel follows the spurts and crashes of the relationship between the two, who have both lost family-Arcady, his parents; Ivan, his wife-to the Communist party's arrest of those deemed enemies of the state. Ivan's efforts to tame Arcady's roughness and help him achieve his goal of playing for the Red Army Soccer Club are hampered by his own past. Yelchin's b&w drawings, interspersed throughout the text as both spots and spreads, add emotional depth and amplify the plot; ample soccer detail makes this a winner for fans of the sport. Readers unfamiliar with the period will benefit from reading the ending author's note-which provides historical background without giving away any of the plot-before they embark on the book. Ages 9-12. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-After his parents are accused of being enemies of the state, 12-year-old Arcady grew up being carted from orphanage to orphanage in Soviet Russia. Although Arcady hasn't had a great childhood, he is great at soccer. In fact, his soccer skills are his ticket out of the orphanage when soft-hearted schoolteacher-turned-orphanage-inspector, Ivan Ivanych, sees Arcady play on an inspection and decides to adopt him. Believing the inspector is actually recruiting youth players for the Soviet's greatest team -the Red Army-in disguise, Arcady calls his new benefactor Coach, and treats him like one, always trying to impress Coach with his skills. Ivan lives up to his new title, creating a youth soccer team just for Arcady to play on. Through this team, Arcady finds that he and Coach are more alike than he originally thought, he learns the true colors of the communist attitude, and he finds his and Ivan's next ticket out of exile: a tryout for the real Red Army soccer team.ÅIn tune with his Newbery Honor book, Breaking Stalin's Nose (Holt, 2011), Yelchin's latest features quick and easy chapters, stimulating, true-to-life characters, and beautiful, mood-setting illustrations. Although a rough knowledge of Soviet Russia would help readers understand Arcady's world from the get-go, a foreword and author's note orient readers outright. Kids can also infer context from Arcady's own growing understanding of his country's situation. This title is a great suggestion for those who enjoy the soccer stories by Matt Christopher, historical fiction, and war stories.-Brittany Staszak, Glencoe Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



1 I'M A RISK TAKER. That's why I score like crazy. I score on the go, with the ball in the air, with my back to the goal. I score in all weather. Dirt, mud, or ice, I score. Today it's pelting rain. The ball is heavy, caked with mud. I beat Dimka on the dribble and push the ball through the puddles. He splashes after me, grabbing at my coat. Grabbing is against the rules in soccer, but here no one plays by the rules. We play in a yard with a fence on all sides, the stakes of the fence are sharpened to knifepoints. The barbed wire above the stakes keeps us from climbing. Penned in like that, every kick has rebound potential. Half the goals I score on the rebound, me passing to myself. Who else would I pass to? Our soccer is strictly one on one. The guards won't let us team up. Huffing and puffing, Dimka is knocking himself out to keep me from scoring into his goal. It's not really a goal, it's just an old potato crate on its side. Potato crates are easy to find, but not the potatoes. I'm about to kick the ball in when Dimka grabs me by the coat and spins me around. Whoosh. The fence flickers by. I lose sight of his goal, but that doesn't stop me. I back-heel the ball through his legs. The ball slams into the crate, planks shooting out in splinters. Goal! My pals are watching the game from under the sagging tarp. No one cheers. Why would they? I've beaten every one of them by now. Dimka reaches deep inside his wet sweater, digs around awhile then pulls out a package wrapped in soggy newspaper. "Here," he wheezes. "Pig out, champion." He hands the package over, but when I try to take it, he doesn't let go. Our hands are in a tug of war. I look up to see his eyes shiny from hunger. He can't hold my stare and lets the thing go. He slogs away while I unwrap the package. An eighth of bread, our daily ration. Under the tarp, my pals rise up to watch me eat my bread. I feel sorry for them, but what can I do? It's not my fault I'm that good at soccer. "Hey, Dimka!" He turns just in time to catch the bread I toss. "Keep it," I say. "I'll win it next time." 2 JUST THEN someone hollers into my ear, "Got you, criminal!" It's Butterball, our wisecracking director. A guard is by his side, one of the rougher ones. Butterball never shows up in the yard without a guard, sometimes two. The guard grabs me. "Setting up illegal soccer games, Arcady?" Butterball bellows. "Cheating poor orphans out of their bread rations?" "Get lost." "Hold your tongue, boy! Ready to go back to solitary? No kicking the ball there." The guard gives my arm a squeeze. Right then, I spot the ball flying our way. Dimka must have kicked it. I duck and the ball thuds against the guard's overcoat, smearing it with mud. My pals take off shrieking from under the tarp, splashing through the puddles. The guard cusses, lets go the scruff of my neck, and charges at them, shouting "Disperse!" and "No assembling in groups!" The moment the guard lets me go, I make a move, but Butterball is ready for it. He is fat but able. "Not too fast," he says, reeling me in. "What do you want?" He glances over his shoulder then looks back at me and squints his itty-bitty eyes. "Not much. Just show off your soccer skills for some important people tomorrow." He's a sly one, that director, you can't trust him. He wants me to show off my soccer skills, but it was he who outlawed soccer when someone snitched we were playing for food rations. Strictly forbidden, he said, but it's his fault there's never enough food to fill our bellies. We have to pull through somehow. "The government inspectors are here tomorrow to check on us. Any small thing that's not to their liking, heads will roll," Butterball whispers, leaning in close. "I know for a fact, the inspectors are all soccer fans. We show you beating one kid after the next, they'll forget all about their inspecting." His itty-bitty eyes dart around. "Just in case, Arcady, I'll line up some mama's boys against you." Butterball is waiting for me to agree. Let him wait. He leans in even closer, brushing his clammy nose against my forehead. "I heard of cases," he whispers, "where some inspectors only pretend to be inspectors. They are soccer coaches searching children's homes for new talent. Soccer is big, son. The important thing is to be in the right place at the right time." He shuts one eye and fixes me with the other, this must be a wink. "Trust me, Arcady, you are in the right place." Butterball would say anything. He's a liar. But catch him telling a lie, what does he care? I've never seen him blush once. I know for definite that if a soccer coach sees me score, nothing will happen. Butterball told us a million times that children like us are not allowed to be team players. While he keeps on blabbering, I stare at his mouth moving but can't hear a thing. From his mouth a delicious smell flows into my nostrils. Sausage, fried onions, and something else I don't have a name for, goose liver maybe. I go numb from smelling such foods. Everyone knows Butterball is stealing our food. Take a look at his gut and smell his goose-liver breath. But the truth is, he needs more food than most. Besides us, he has to feed nine in his family, and one still in diapers. Everyone has to get by somehow, but it's harder for him. Tomorrow the inspectors might get wise to his stealing and ship him off to hard labor or worse. Who'd feed his little kids then? "I'll do it on one condition," I say. "What is it?" "Two bread rations for each game I play," I say. "One for me and one for the loser." Butterball's bald head shines in the rain, a raindrop hangs off the tip of his nose. He grins. "You got yourself a deal, son." Copyright © 2014 by Eugene Yelchin Excerpted from Arcady's Goal by Eugene Yelchin All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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