Author(s)
Jukka Behm
Illustrator(s)
Publication date
July 2023
Publisher
Tammi
Format info
362 pages, age 12+

Hammersmith United 1: Wonder Boy

Ihmepoika Leon

WINNER OF THE TOPELIUS PRIZE 2024

NOMINEE FOR THE CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE FINLANDIA PRIZE 2023

An effortlessly captivating story about a teenager on the precipice of stardom. A feel-good winner!

‘Leon Brown is a gift from the gods to football.’ Morning Express

Meet 13-year-old Leon Brown, living in the small town of Weston, under the care of his extended family. His mother has passed away, and a shroud of mystery has always surrounded his absent father. His aunt’s husband has blocked his entry to the local junior football team so Leon has been practising with a team of grown ups in the park instead. Leon has also shared videos of his best football tricks online.

Fate takes an unexpected turn when a talent scout for the legendary Hammersmith United stumbles upon Leon’s videos and tracks Leon down. Leon is swiftly recruited into Hammersmith’s player development programme and moves to London. His skills on pitch do not go unnoticed and soon the entire world of football knows his name. Everyone seems to want a piece of Leon’s brilliant future, but Leon learns that being in the limelight and chasing his dreams has its flip side. Also, Leon’s past won’t leave him in peace. New information about his mother suddenly surfaces and Leon discovers that life isn’t all about football.

With WONDER BOY, Jukka Behm plays a blinder and scores. He gives readers the VIP box seats to witness, gasp and cheer as the humble yet immensely talented teenager Leon Brown navigates through the opportunities and challenges during the most exciting year of his life.

WONDER BOY marks the beginning of a trilogy, with the second part, Angel’s Fist, to be published in the summer of 2024.

WONDER BOY is a feelgood winner!

Material

Finnish Edition
Full English translation

Rights sold

Estonian (Eesti Raamat)
Latvian (tba)
Lithuanian (Alma Littera)

Prizes & nominations

Topelius Prize winner 2024
Adlibris Award nominee 2023
Children’s and Young Adult Literature Finlandia Prize nominee 2023

Praise

‘The book has garnered high praise from its readers and has even gotten youths who previously shied away from reading to pick up the book. With ‘Wonder Boy’ Behm has discovered the key to igniting reading interest among the youth.’YLE (Finnish National Broadcast Company)

’Behm’s novel, set in the world of British football, is not only a compelling narrative of events on the fields but also credibly portrays the ruthless world of professional football. A touching coming-of-age story that ventures into new worlds and deeply into Leon’s psyche.’ —Topelius Prize Jury

’The book takes its reader to the big world football pitches of England. It portrays friendship and rootlessness, as well as the ruthlessness of competitive and elite sports. ‘Wonder Boy’ is filled with masterful plot twists, wonderful characters, and thrilling scenes of football matches. The reality in the book has a perfect topping of magic dust and hope. ‘Wonder Boy’ grips its readers, even those who might have struggled to engage with literature and reading.’ — Finlandia Prize Jury

’A fast-paced and compelling narrative unfolds against the backdrop of a London football club’s junior academy, chronicling the rapid rise of a talented youngster to the top of British football. In ‘Wonder Boy,’ Jukka Behm skillfully captures not only the on-field drama but also paints a convincing picture of the ruthless world of professional football, challenging family relations, and the behind-the-scenes game where money becomes the deciding factor. This heart-warming coming-of-age tale navigates towards uncharted territories and deep into the depths of Leon’s inner world. — Topelius Prize Jury

‘A fantastic young adult novel that is enjoyable even for those who don’t play or know much about football. Behm writes skillfully, and the protagonist, struggling with his internal conflicts, truly has the makings of a hero… Moreover, the ending manages to surprise. I’m eagerly looking forward to the second part of the series…’ Turun Sanomat

’’Wonder Boy’ tells the very story that hundreds of young football enthusiasts (both boys and girls!) are dreaming of right now. Moreover, Behm skillfully depicts themes of friendship, competition, and the universal teenage quest to discover where one belongs in this world.’ — Helsingin Sanomat

’A remarkable success! More of this!’ — Helsingin Sanomat

‘There is fluidity in Behm’s writing and he successfully portrays Leon’s internal feelings…’ Demokraatti

’Jukka Behm’s storytelling prowess shines through so brilliantly that the narrative remains utterly captivating even if you’re entirely unfamiliar with football or hold no real interest in it. I wholeheartedly recommend this book!’ — Kini, Kirjavinkit (Booktips)