After almost 20 years as a teacher, Joseph Hicks knows a thing or two about kids. And it’s that knowledge that led him to write Paige and Sophie: Soccer Twins, a children’s book about two soccer-playing sisters who are identical on the outside but very different inside. Paige, a natural athlete, struggles in school, while her twin sister, Sophie, is a classroom whiz who stumbles and trips on the soccer pitch. Eventually, though, the girls make a plan: Paige will help Sophie become a champion athlete and Sophie will teach Paige “how to read like an ace” and “multiply like a maniac.”
“The initial idea for the book came from observing students for many years,” says Hicks, a fifth-grade teacher at Meriwether Lewis Elementary School. “In particular, siblings. I was always amazed at how different siblings can be and how their individual strengths made them unique.”
After he finished his book, which is illustrated by Chiara Civati, Hicks sent “an optimistic” e-mail with his manuscript to Megan Rapinoe, a player on the U.S. women’s national team who has a twin sister. “Amazingly, a couple months later, I got a reply,” Hicks says. “She and her sister loved the story,” and the World Cup and Olympic champion agreed to write the introduction for the Team USA edition of Paige and Sophie. But Rapinoe isn’t the only high-profile member of the soccer world who has gotten behind Hicks’ book. Steve Swanson, UVA’s head women’s soccer coach and an assistant on the U.S. National Team, says this in the book’s afterword: “Whether you are part of a team, a classroom, a family or a society, one of the best lessons you can learn is how to serve one another. Sophie and Paige helped one another improve and in turn they helped themselves. The greatest reward you can give yourself is to help someone grow and reach their dreams.”
Paige and Sophie: Soccer Twins will be available online and at Mincer’s at the end of November.
Meant to be
Joseph Hicks has always been interested in soccer, “but it was not even on the radar in my small hometown.” Now, however, the long-time elementary school teacher says he’s “very fortunate to have my own first-grade soccer star at home,” which is one reason he decided to write Paige and Sophie: Soccer Twins.
Hicks also wanted to share what he’s gleaned from working with children with a wider audience, and a children’s book seemed to be a perfect way to do that. “I believe that giving children the time, space and support to nurture their interests is crucial. Sophie and Paige each have their own talents, but kindness and patience helps them become who they are really meant to be.”—S.S.