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Miss Little's Losers

TitleMiss Little's Losers
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsRayner, Robert
Series TitleSports stories 64
PublisherJ. Lorimer
ISBN Number1550288105 (pbk.)
DescriptorsChapter Book; Conflict Resolution; English Language; Friendship; New Brunswick; School; Sport

This chapter book by New Brunswick author Robert Rayner is the second book about Toby Morton. In this volume, Toby plays soccer with his school's team, the worst team in the league. When their coach quits, their kindergarten teacher agrees to coach the team, applying kindergarten rules to the game, which encourage team work and are surprisingly successful.


New Brunswick

Age Range


Author Profile: 

Toby Morton is in grade seven, and he joins the Brunswick Valley School soccer team. The team constantly argues amongst themselves, and their coach quits in frustration. Despite losing every game, the team makes the playoffs when two other school teams are forced to withdraw. The school’s Kindergarten teacher, Miss Little, steps in to coach the team even though she knows nothing about the sport. Miss Little applies her kindergarten rules – be nice to one another, always do your best, share, clean up after yourself, keep things in their proper place, do everything with dignity and grace – to the sport, and the team immediately improves. Miss Little faces opposition from a parent who suggests that a woman should not coach the team. The team manages to advance further in the playoffs than they had hoped by defeating their greatest rivals, St. Croix Middle School, and the story ends just as Miss Little’s team takes the field in the biggest game of the year.


The referee blows her whistle for halftime.
I struggle to a sitting position, still trying to catch my breath. Brian stays down in the mud where he landed. Linh-Mai sinks to her knees, exhausted. She’s crying, thinking the last goal was her fault. [....] I hear Miss Little’s voice. She’s moving among us, like an army general among wounded soldiers. She hugs Shay. She kneels before Julie and wipes mud from her face and hair. She bends over Brian and strokes his curly head. She puts her hands on each side of Linh-Mai’s face, wipes her tears, and says, “It wasn’t your fault, dear. There’s no need to cry.” She ruffles my hair and says, “Are you alright?”
I nod.
“Shall I help you up?”
I look up at her. “Do you have a crane handy?”
She offers me her hand…
When we’re standing in a bedraggled, muddy, bruised group around her, she says, “I’m so proud of you.”
She leads us off the field. We follow, in a row, like ducklings.
Then something amazing happens.
The crowd starts to applaud. Not the St. Croix kids on the other bleachers, who are laughing at us and chanting, “Lo-sers. Lo-sers,” but all the rest – they clap for us as we stagger off the field.
“What are they clapping for?” Linh-Mai wonders aloud.
“Don’t you know?” says Miss Little.
I know, before she says anything, and I think some of the others know, too.
“They’re applauding your dignity and grace.” (87-88)