The Floating Field: How a Group of Thai Boys Built Their Own Soccer Field

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Product Details

$19.99  $18.59
Millbrook Press (Tm)
Publish Date
9.6 X 11.2 X 0.4 inches | 1.01 pounds

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About the Author

Scott Riley is a middle school English teacher who was inspired to write about Prasit Hemmin and Koh Panyee's floating soccer field after visiting the Thai island in 2018. He currently lives with his family in Singapore.

Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien are Vietnamese illustrators who have collaborated on books published in a number of countries, often under the pen name KAA. Their illustrations are influenced by the folk culture of Vietnam and Asia. Visit them at
Huynh Kim Lien and Phung Nguyen Quang are Vietnamese illustrators who have collaborated on books published in a number of countries, often under the pen name KAA. Their illustrations are influenced by the folk culture of Vietnam and Asia. Visit them at


This real-life celebration of resourcefulness by debut author Riley follows Prasit Hemmin, a boy who, with his friends, found space for a soccer field on the Thai island of Koh Panyee and founded one of the most successful youth soccer clubs in Southern Thailand. Living 'in a village on stilts, ' Hemmin and pals use a sandbar to play when the tide is low. But watching the 1986 FIFA World Cup, they decide to construct a floating platform from scavenged materials to create a less ephemeral field. Working around the field's limitations and forming a football club, they go on to play in a mainland tournament. Illustrations by Vietnamese team Quang and Lien emphasize light, movement, and perspective, making for a transportive read. A compelling book for football fans and readers seeking examples of ingenuity. Back matter includes an author's note, a note from Hemmin, and a glossary of English and Thai soccer terms with pronunciations.--starred, Publishers Weekly

-- "Journal" (1/11/2021 12:00:00 AM)

Young Prasit Hemmin and his friends loved soccer. But because their small island home of Koh Panyee, off the coast in Thailand, had so little land (the homes were built on stilts over the ocean), there was no room for even a small field. The boys played on sandbars at low tide, but as soon as the tide came in, the game was over. Set in 1986, this inspiring true story of determination and teamwork tells of Prasit and his friends' wild plan to use scrap lumber to build a floating soccer field. Not only did the young people succeed, but practicing on this small, unsteady, nail-and-splinter-filled field floating off the docks helped build the players' quickness and footwork. They entered a local tournament--and, playing their own way, came in third. In the colorful pen and digital illustrations, soccer scenes are especially lively and expressive, filled with happy smiles and strong kicks. An appended note tells more about the real-life players and about the Panyee Football Club, which is still in existence. A bibliography, further reading, 'Words You Might Hear on the Floating Field' in English and Thai (with a pronunciation guide), and a first-person 'Prasit's Perspective' section are appended. A splendid nonfiction picture book to pair with Baptiste Paul's fictional The Field (rev. 5/18).--starred, The Horn Book Magazine

-- "Journal" (5/1/2021 12:00:00 AM)

In the Thai fishing village of Koh Panyee, Prasit and his friends can play their favorite game only twice a month. They must rely on the phases of the moon to go out to a sandbar when the tides are in their favor. But their irrepressible passion for football (soccer) keeps them from giving up, especially when they huddle around the single island television to watch an underdog team win the World Cup. Ignoring naysayers and fueled with enthusiasm and ingenuity, the boys come up with a plan. Their floating field created with repurposed scrap materials enables them to begin a daily practice regimen, form the Panyee Football Club, qualify to compete in a tournament on the mainland, and earn the admiration of their whole village. Vibrant artwork in rich, concentrated color conveys energy and joy. References to local foods and adult women wearing hijabs depict the regional culture and predominant faith. A note by the real Prasit Hemmin enhances the authenticity of this illustrated account of his own story. Additional back matter includes a map, photos, and bilingual chart with soccer terminology. VERDICT This is a story that presents kids as true problem solvers. Its message will spark conversations at home and in the classroom, and its makerspace connection makes it an excellent STEM resource.--starred, School Library Journal

-- "Journal" (5/1/2021 12:00:00 AM)

This picture book tells the true story of a group of boys in Thailand who build themselves a floating soccer field. The boys live in a small fishing village, where dry land is scarce, and they're frustrated because their games are restricted to monthly low tides when a sandbar would briefly appear. Working on their own, the boys start collecting anything that will float and hammer it together. They use fishing nets for goals, and while their improvised field isn't pretty, it works. Impressed, the village adults surprise the boys with real uniforms when they go to compete in an inland soccer tournament, where they take third place. All this action is gloriously illustrated in vivid, full-page illustrations that capture the boys' joyous games. One of the original team members appears in a photo at the end of the book, along with updated information, a glossary of soccer terms in Thai, and further-reading sources. This inspiring tale will appeal to soccer fans, of course, but also has applications for problem solving and determination.--Booklist

-- "Journal" (1/13/2021 12:00:00 AM)

Enamored by sport, a group of Thai boys literally make a field of their own.

In Thailand in 1986, a young boy named Prasit lives in a village called Koh Panyee, built on stilts on the shore. As his father leaves on his boat with dreams of his daily catch, Prasit and the other neighborhood boys look elsewhere. Their eyes are on the village's only TV, at Uncle's coffee shop, broadcasting the World Cup. Their excitement spills over to a sandbar where they struggle to play in the sand. The straightforward text goes on at a steady pace to reveal how the boys build their own floating soccer field with ample ingenuity and resourcefulness. At first the community is skeptical of the boys' goals, but they eventually cheer as the boys leave for a tournament. Illustrators Quang and Lien use vivid colors and contrast to bring plenty of depth and movement to every scene. At times the narration can be a touch flat, especially at the climax, where the boys kick off their shoes in their formal match to play in the rain, a moment rendered with little emotion. In the backmatter, the real Prasit provides insights on the actual events along with a detailed author's note and a glossary. The village is largely Muslim, as shown by characters' attire.

An intriguing true story elevated by striking illustrations.--Kirkus Reviews

-- "Journal" (1/1/2021 12:00:00 AM)