Archive for the 'Sports' Category

Gutless by Carl Deuker

Genre:  Sports Fiction

# of Pages:  329

Brock Ripley has always considered himself gutless because he tends to shy away from aggressive plays in all sports.  He’s even considering quitting soccer for next season because he feels responsible for losing the championship game for his team.  Then, he’s asked to play with Hunter Gates in the local park because he needs to practice throwing the football to someone.  He’s nervous, but Hunter is the kind of guy you do not say no to and you desperately try not to get on his bad side.  Brock is fast and has an eye for the ball, but is terrified of getting tackles in a real football setting.  Hunter’s dad tries to convince Brock to try out for football because they think the two of them could be a good pair.  Brock’s parents need some serious convincing to let him even try out, but as a freshmen who has never played before he ends up on the freshmen team and even on that he is not a superstar.  Meanwhile, he befriends an outgoing, silly, nerdy, Asian kid named Richie who immediately becomes a target for bullying from Hunter and his friends.  As Brock tries to be friends with Richie and play on the football team he finds himself ignoring the harsh treatment that Richie keeps getting from the older, bigger players.  Eventually things escalate and Brock must decide whose side he’s going to be on.

Fans of sports fiction will once again enjoy this new addition by Carl Deuker.  He includes both football and soccer action that sports fans will love, but also includes a lot on the topic of bullying that is so timely today.  The foreshadowing will instantly put the reader on alert with a sense of foreboding, but the characters are engaging enough that you have to keep reading to find out what happens.

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Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

Genre:  Sports Fiction

# of Pages:  311

RAC Book:  Yes

While taking the physical fitness test in his P.E. class, Felton discovers that in less than a year he has grown several inches, gained muscle, and become what he describes as stupid fast.  His classmates immediately notice and he is recruited to the track and football teams.  Felton is a bit worried about becoming a jock since these were the same people who used to pick on him, but he does like the idea of having an activity to keep him busy.  His mother has started to detach from Felton and his younger brother and as time goes on the worse the situation becomes.  She stops buying food or taking care of them in any way.  Felton distracts himself from the fighting and neglect of his home life by throwing himself into his training, but there is a bully there he must deal with as well.  Can he face the difficult home life for the sake of his little brother?  Can he overcome everyone’s doubt that he can truly become a great athlete?

Felton’s story is a good sports story for those who like to read about sports.  However, there is a lot of focus on his home life and the developing relationship between Felton and a neighborhood girl.  The fights between Felton and his mother can get a bit heated at times and some tough language is used, which might turn off some younger readers.  The eventual explanation of his mother’s abandonment is unique and satisfying.  Recommended for sports and/or reluctant readers.

The Batboy by Mike Lupica

Genre:  Sports fiction

# of Pages:  246

2011 Iowa Teen Award Winner

RAC Book:  Yes

Brian Dudley is thrilled when he learns that he will be a batboy for the Tigers Major League Baseball Team.  He is also excited when he hears that his baseball hero, Hank Bishop, will be playing on the team after getting suspended for steroid use.  Brian loves baseball and loves working with the Tigers.  He strives to be the best batboy he can be and is shocked when Hank Bishop does not appreciate his efforts.  Meanwhile his father, who is a retired major league pitcher whom he hasn’t seen in over a year, comes to town to scout some players for Japan.  Brian hates to admit it, but secretly hoped this connection to baseball would bring them together again.   Can Brian earn Hank’s respect?  Will he ever reconnect with his father?  Will he still love baseball after a summer of working for the Tigers?

This book is for anyone who loves baseball.  Brian truly loves the sport in every way and his excitement is infectious.  Lupica definitely has an upbeat, positive writing style in which characters often seem a bit simplistic.  This won’t stop young readers from devouring his stories, however.  The sports aspects are well described and there’s always a lot of action and character conflict.  Recommended for sports lovers and reluctant readers.

Boost by Kathy Mackel

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Sports

# of Pages:  248

RAC Book:  Yes

2011-2012 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Savvy is a very talented basketball player who despite only being 14, makes the under 18 travel team.  She has to prove herself from the beginning, however, because not everyone welcomes her onto the team.  Plus, she is new in town after her family suffered some financial hardships in their hometown and were forced to come stay on their relative’s sheep farm.  Savvy wants to fit in and prove herself more than anything.  Meanwhile, her sister Callie is having a hard time fitting in on the cheerleading squad she so desperately wants to join.  The stress of the move encouraged Callie to put on a bit of extra weight and because of that her career as a “flyer’ could be in jeopardy.  Both of the girls want to “boost” their game, but what will they be willing to do in order to succeed?

Boost follows a family who is making a transition and hoping for the best.  They all want to support each other, but they are all going through difficult challenges as well.  As Savvy and Callie try to find their way in this new town they are faced with challenges and temptations that may or may not be in their best interest.  In the end, they realize they must support each other no matter what because there is nothing more important than family.  A good sports fiction story that fans of Dairy Queen will enjoy.

Iron Heart by Brian Boyle

Genre:  Sports Autobiography

# of Pages:  248

RAC Book:  Yes

2011 Iowa High School Award Winner

This remarkable true story follows Brian Boyle’s recovery from a horrendous car accident he was in when he was eighteen.  He was preparing to go to college on a swim scholarship and instead spent two months fighting for his life.  He had multiple surgeries and countless hardships ahead of him, but he made the choice that he wanted to fight for his life.  His parents were there to support him every step of the way as he slowly worked toward the same goals he had made prior to the accident.

This story is told in Brian’s words so the writing is not very technical or complex, but his words are very powerful.  Most teens will be able to relate to his feelings of helplessness as his dreams and aspirations after high school slip away.  They will also be able to identify with his perseverance and will to fight when no one thought he could.  The story is uplifting and heartwarming and will interest most teen readers, but especially readers who like reading about athletes.  Reading this story will give teenagers a lot to think about regarding their own futures and the choices they plan to make, but also the present and how they want to live for today.

Pop by Gordon Korman

Genre:  Sports Fiction

# of Pages:  260 p.

RAC:  Yes

Marcus is new in town and cannot wait for football tryouts in the fall.  Over the summer he conditions himself in the park everyday.  One day a middle aged man comes and tackles him.  It is the strongest tackle he has ever had, but he finds himself looking forward to these workout sessions.  His new friend, Charlie, tends to behave erratically at times, however, and Marcus cannot figure him out.  For example, one day he throws a football into a car window and then runs away leaving Marcus to deal with the damage.  Meanwhile, Marcus is not welcomed onto the high school football team that has an undefeated record and does not have an interest in even holding tryouts.  Will his new ability to take and give tackles give him an edge?  Will he ever learn why Charlie acts so peculiar?

Teenage boys will enjoy this book because it is current and timely, but still incorporates nostalgic football memories that they will be able to relate to.  Charlie’s situation is handled well and will help students understand more about the condition.  It’s a very relatable story about a high school football player that I predict will fly off the shelves.  Highly recommended for fans of sports fiction.

Payback Time by Carl Deuker

Genre:  Sports Fiction

# of Pages:  298

RAC:  Yes

Mitch True is a reporter at his high school and is extremely unhappy when he is assigned the sports columns.  Mitch dreams of one day being a star investigative reporter who breaks open huge stories, like Watergate.  He really wants to work on the school paper, though, so he dutifully goes to the football and volleyball games.  At one of the football practices he notices a new kid, Angel, off to the side with an amazing throw.  When he asks the coach about Angel he is brushed off.  When the season starts he sees that Angel is hardly ever played despite his obvious skills.  The more Mitch investigates this student’s past the more confused he gets and he starts to wonder if this is his big story.  Can Mitch find out why Angel’s trying to downplay his skills to everyone, including possible talent scouts?

Carl Deuker is a master of writing sports fiction high school boys love to read, but this might be his best yet.  The football action is written in an exciting and easy to follow manner, but the mystery behind Angel’s past is almost more engaging.  Even reluctant readers will struggle to put this mesmerizing sports mystery down.  Highly recommended.