Archive for the 'Sports' Category



Summer Ball by Mike Lupica

Genre: Sports Fiction

Age Level: 12 and up

# of Pages: 244 p.

RAC Book: Yes

In this sequel to Travel Team Danny Walker and his friends go to a summer camp to play basketball for the summer. Danny is nervous from the start because even though their travel team ended up winning the championship there are always people who want to knock you down. When he arrives at the camp he learns that his name was left off the bunk list and he has to room with the younger kids. He takes this news surprisingly well considering the fact that he has issues with people thinking he is younger than he is due to his height. The rival from the championship game, Rasheed, is at camp and they are placed on the same team. Early on in the camp Danny learns that Rasheed and their team coach believe Danny has no place on a basketball court.

Danny Walker has many obstacles in this book considering his success in the previous one. The degree to which his coach dislikes him is amazing considering his ill treatment of Danny begins almost immediately. As Danny struggles with confidence, bullies, and even a homesick younger roommate he considers some drastic measures for escaping but ends up fighting his battles whether her wants to or not. The sports action is as good as ever in this book and fans of sports fiction will enjoy it. The fact that not everyone comes around to Danny’s way of thinking is a good reminder to readers that you will never get along with everyone and you just have to make the best of it. A good sports read.

Peak by Roland Smith

Genre: Sports Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 246 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Peak was named Peak due to his parents’ love of mountain climbing. They have long since separated and he almost never sees his father, who leads expeditions up Mt. Everest. Peak loves to climb, however, and gets the idea to climb skyscrapers in New York since there are no mountains. After several successful attempts he is caught and there is a media frenzy. He faces several charges and is looking at three years in jail when his father unexpectedly arrives and offers to take him away and pay a huge fine. The judge likes the idea of Peak being out of sight and agrees. Peak’s father has other intentions for him, however, and Peak soon learns that if he goes along with his father’s plan he will not only help his mountain climbing business, but have one of the most difficult and exhilarating times of his life.

This story has everything sports fiction fans love. It has drama, suspense, action, interesting details, and well-developed characters. Mountain climbing is not a subject often tackled by young adult writers, which makes this story that much more interesting. The details are specific and help anyone regardless of experience in this sport learn what it takes to climb high and difficult mountains. Peak’s motivations and desires also help the reader to understand why he feels he needs to climb all the time. Recommended for sports fiction readers, but all will enjoy.

Amazing Grace by Megan Shull

Genre: Realistic fiction/Sports

Age Level: 13 and up

# of pages: 247 p.

RAC Book: Yes

2008 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Grace “Ace” Kincaid is a world renowned tennis player known not only for winning major competitions like Wimbledon, but for her many endorsements and modeling jobs. One day Grace decides she is very unhappy with her life and asks her mom if she can quit everything she is currently involved in, including the US Open. Her mother readily agrees and works on transforming Grace from a blonde bombshell into a red headed punk chick. As part of this plan, Grace must move to Alaska for three months with a friend of her mother’s in order to avoid the paparazzi and relax for awhile. In Alaska Grace becomes Emily and finds the small town of Medicine Hat to be very welcoming and enjoyable despite its lack of the luxuries she has gotten used to. As time goes on she makes a best friend and a finds a special boy, but her past is still chasing her and she must face the life she left behind.

This story is unique and interesting in many ways. It can be hard to imagine why someone would leave her glamorous life for the simple one she goes to, but it is written in a way that the reader understands why she felt she needed to make the changes she did. It’s inspiring for anyone, but especially young adults who are battling all kinds of pressures for their futures. Recommended.

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Genre: Realistic Fiction/ Sports

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 274 p.

RAC Book: Yes

2008 Iowa Teen Award Winner

D.J. works constantly on her family’s dairy farm since her father hurt his hip. Her mother was forced to take an extra job in order to earn more money and her older brothers have not spoken to the family since Christmas. Running the farm, with some help from her little brother who doesn’t speak, has been difficult for D.J. because she feels like she just goes about her day doing what she is told.

One day, Brian, from the nearby rival of D.J.’s high school comes to work because his football coach feels he needs to get tougher. Things do not go well at first, but eventually D.J. starts training him for football. D.J.’s two older brothers were fabulous football players so she knows what it takes to succeed. As D.J. and Brian become closer it begins to get complicated as her best friend stops talking to her and she decides to try out for her own high school football team. In a place where everyone does what they are supposed to and never speaks up, D.J. decides she wants to do something different and begin saying what she feels.

This story asks many questions about communication, goals, responsibilities, and loyalty to family. D.J.’s family never spoke about anything they were feeling because they didn’t want to start fights, but that just meant they ended up not saying anything. As D.J. realized how unhappy she was always doing what she was supposed to and not what she wanted she decided to make some changes. Everyone must learn to balance responsibilities and desires and this book reminds us of the choices we make everyday that guide our lives. A well-written story that young adults will enjoy.

Crackback by John Coy

Genre: Sports/Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 200

2008 Iowa Teen Award Winner

RAC Book: Yes

Miles Manning has been a starting football player since he was in junior high. His team begins the year with high aspirations of winning state, but those dreams quickly vanish when their two starting quarterbacks get hurt and their coach has to leave for radiation treatments. The new coach blames Miles for everything that goes wrong with the team and believes he thinks too much and should just react to situations.

As hard as life is at school, however, it is worse at home. Miles’s dad is like a ticking time bomb that they all tip toe around and try not to set off. He still manages to find things to be angry about and usually goes after Miles when he wants to yell at someone. He was a big football player himself, so whenver he can he tells Miles all the mistakes he is making and never compliments him on what he does well.

On top of everything else, the players who are doing well on the team have all started taking recreational drugs including steroids and want him to do the same. This story accurately depicts the many aspects of a teenager’s life and how pressure can come at a student from all sides at times. Despite the many people trying to pull Miles down he always does what he feels is right, even if he knows there will be consequences. He cannot allow others to think for him and instead chooses to always think for himself. Miles has to learn that there will be life after high school and in order to survive he needs to look ahead. Recommended, especially for sports readers.

Slam by Nick Hornby

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  309

RAC Book:  Yes

Sam is a fifteen year old boy who loves Tony Hawk and skateboarding, althought he calls it skating.  He meets a girl named Alicia and they hit it off right away.  She is pretty and funny and they find they cannot see enough of each other.  Despite their reservations, they end up having sex fairly early into the relationship.  Sam was apprehensive about beginning a sexual relationship because his parents were sixteen when they had him and he has always felt like he ruined their lives.

When Sam begins to drift away from Alicia she becomes desperate to talk to him.  In a dream he flashes to the future where he is living in Alicia’s bedroom and they have a son.  Even though he is not sure how he zapped into the future he believes it is true and Alicia is pregnant.  He must decide how he can face her, his parents, and his very altered future.

Sam is a likable teenage boy who really did not want to get into this predicament, but did nonetheless.  Since teenage pregnancy has been such an issue lately with celebrities like Jamie Lynn Spears and movies like Juno making it look cool, this book shows how hard it is to be a teenage parent.  It also shows how plans of college, travel, and even leisure activities go away the minute a baby is in the picture.  At the same time, the teens in this story have very supportive parents, which is not true of all cases.  An interesting read.

Pretty Tough by Liz Tigelaar

Genre:  Sports Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  246

RAC Book:  Yes

Krista and Charlie are two sisters who do not get along in any way.  Krista strives to be perfect and adored at all times, while Charlie seems determined to be a loner.  The story changes perspective between the two sisters which allows the reader to understand where both girls are coming from.  Krista has a lot of insecurities which she tries to compensate for by looking perfect on the outside.  Charlie feels her sister and everyone else in school failed to stand up for her in the past and does not have time for them now.

Everything begins to change when  a new soccer coach, Martie, decides to make girls soccer great again.  She recruits Charlie, a strong athlete, which annoys Krista because she feels like Charlie is taking the spotlight away from her for her senior year.  Charlie tries out purely to annoy Krista and has no intention of staying on the team, but finds she enjoys actually fitting in somewhere.

This book covers many issues like high school life, friendship, sports, and sisters.  Both sisters learn a lot through their time together on the soccer field and come to appreciate each other in new ways.  This change in their relationship is not easy, however, and they have to jump many hurdles in order to be able to play well together.  Of course there are also romantic moments in this teen story.  A good story for girls and athletes who enjoy this type of writing.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Reading Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  271

RAC Book:  Yes

Naomi was late at school one day working in the year book office when she tripped down some stairs and suffered a blow to the head.  The result was that she forgot the previous four years of her life, including everyone she met during that time.  Naomi has a difficult time trying to discover why she liked yearbook, tennis, and even her boyfriend.  At the same time she must come to terms with her parents divorce and her father’s new fiancee.

Naomi chooses to make many changes in her life because she believes that she is changed and cannot be the person she was before.  Everyone around her is unbelievably patient and understanding to her situation and never pushes her to do anything.  That does not mean that those around her, specifically her father and best friend, do not get disappointed by her subsequent actions.

The idea of this book was creative and interesting much like Zevin’s previous novel, Elsewhere, but it lacked the follow through that  one did.  The middle lagged as Naomi struggled with discovering herself, and the end was anticlimactic and boring.  No one will dispute that going through something like that would be traumatic, but Naomi seems overly selfish and mean at times to those who have been so understanding to her through everything.  All in all, a bit of a disappointment.

 

Black and White by Paul Volponi

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Sports

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  185 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Eddie and Marcus have been best friends for so long that no one even qusetions the fact that Eddie is white and Marcus is black.  In fact, since they are a dynamic duo on the basketball court they actually have the nickname “black and white.”  Unfortunately, they get the idea to hold people up in order to get extra cash and a man accidentally gets shot.  As the cops slowly start to put the pieces together they need to decide just what it means to be a good friend.  Does it mean taking the blame together or keeping your mouth shut and letting your friend walk away free?

This story discusses the differences in how African American and Caucasion people are treated in the court system.  This story is based on interviews conducted by the author with people who have been caught in similar situations.  Students will like this story because it discusses friendship as well as choices.  At our school we stress how important it is for students to be aware of the choices they make because each one can change the course of your life. 

Hard Ball by Will Weaver

Genre:  Sports Fiction

Age Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  240 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Billy Baggs has been enemies with King Kenwood ever since he can remember.  They are both strong baseball players, but Billy lives on a farm far out of town and King lives in town in a big house.  Their fathers have clashed for many years and they both have a crush on the same girl.  There are numerous reasons why they have failed to see eye to eye over the years. 

Right before they begin high school they get into a big fight and their baseball coach says they have to spend one entire week together or else he won’t let them on the team.  When King stays on the farm he pitches in and helps with the chores.  He begins to see how difficult life is for a kid on a farm.  He has to get up early and do chores before getting on an hour long bus ride to school.  He does it all with minimal complaining, however. 

When Billy stays in town he sees that life isn’t as easy for King as he thought.  His mother drinks and his father works long hours, so King is responsible for making all the meals in the house and cleaning.  Also, his father puts a lot of pressure on him to work out and practice baseball in the hopes of getting a scholarship someday.

Both boys end up finding that they need to understand more about where the other one is coming from before passing judgment.  They also learn how to work together in order to improve their current situations before they both crack under all the responsibilities heaped upon them.  A good book about sports and high school.

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker

Genre:  Sports

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  313 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Mick Johnson wanted to be the starting running back on his football team from the moment his father put a football into his hands at the age of four.  Mick was raised to believe his father was a tremendous football player who played for the NFL, but later realizes he did not get the full story.  He vows never to make the same mistakes his father made.

In junior high Mick starts to really gain speed and agility, but finds he is not as strong as he would like.  He starts to lift weights constantly, but he has a difficult time exceeding his past personal goals.  His father offers to get him some time with a personal trainer at a nearby gym and Mick goes, despite his coach’s concerns that it would be better to work out with his own teammates.  His personal trainer, Peter, offers Mick some steroid enhancements that he refuses.  After Peter assures him that they are harmless and will give him unimaginable strength, he relents and vows to stop taking them when the football season begins.

Mick loves the power and strength he gets when he takes the steroids, but when it comes time to quit he wonders if he has the strength to do that.  Carl Deuker is one of the most popular sports writers around because he combines exciting sports moments with real people who have real problems.  His books are interesting for anyone, despite their athletic ability, and this one is another hit.  Recommended

Heat by Mike Lupica

Genre:  Sports

Age Level:  12 and up

# of pages:  220 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Michael Arroyo was born in Cuba and immigrated to the United States with his father and brother when he was younger.  His entire family is obsessed with baseball and they love living in the Bronx, which is so close to Yankee Stadium.  Michael also plays on a Little League All Stars team and they hope to go to the World Series.  Michael is a strong pitcher and a little big for his age, so as his team starts to do well other coaches feel the need to question his date of birth.  Unfortunately, Michael is not able to locate his birth certificate, which causes some problems for him and his team.

Meanwhile, Michael and his brother, Carlos, are hiding a terrible secret that they are afraid will break their family up.  Despite the fact that Michael doesn’t seem to have anything going right in his life, he always has his friends and baseball to get him through.  He wonders whether he will get to continue to play baseball or if his dream will end forever over a dispute about his age.  This was a good sports story, but it also shed some light on difficult issues like immigration and poverty.  Boys will be a fan of this book.

Knights of the Hill Country by Tim Tharp

Genre:  Sports

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  233 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

This football story takes place in Kennisaw, Oklahoma where football is the most important thing on earth.  Hampton Green, the star of the team, is trying to lead the team to the fifth straight undefeated season.  This has only been done once before and those men are still revered in the area.  Hampton’s best friend, Blaine, wants the undefeated season worse than anyone.  Blaine used to be a very powerful player as well, but sustained a knee injury during the previous season.  He tries to pretend he is still the same player, but anyone can see that he is not performing where he used to.

As the team inches closer to the end of the season Hampton starts to notice for the first time that not everyone always agrees with what Blaine says.  Ever since Hampton moved to Kennisaw in junior high and Blaine accepted him as his friend, he has listened to everything Blaine said and accepted it as fact.  Since Hampton’s father left him and his mom and she fell apart, Hampton looked to Blaine and his dad for male advice.  Now it seems that Blaine is getting defensive with his words and aggressive with his fists and it’s always Hampton who has to bail him out of tough situations.

Hampton also meets a girl, Sara, who is not interested in football, but in what Hampton has to say.  He really enjoys talking to her until Blaine insists she isn’t good enough and forces him to stay away from her.  Hampton must come to decide if he should stand by Blaine because they have been best friends for so long, or if he should start thinking for himself and decide what he wants to do with his life besides football.  Sports fans will enjoy this book and athletes will be able to relate to the difficult issues that come with having young athletes put so much stress on themselves.

Vanishing Act by John Feinstein

Genre:  Mystery/Sports

Age Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  279

RAC Book: Yes

Vanishing Act follows two young reporters, Susan Carol and Stevie, whom readers might remember from Last Shot: a Final Four Mystery.  In this story, Susan Carol and Stevie are writing about the US Open.  They are staying with Susan Carol’s uncle, who is an agent.  When one of the most anticipated players vanishes between the locker room and the court complete chaos ensues. The player was originally from Russia, so her parents immediately blame the Russian mafia, but Stevie thinks that answer seems too convenient.

Susan Carol and Stevie use some creative methods for finding out information regarding their cases, but many times their plans seem plausible.  Soon Stevie becomes suspicious of Susan Carol’s uncle, which creates some tension as he is then told to find somewhere new to sleep.  This distraction, however, does not even slow these young reporters down as they try to find out the truth.

This book has all of the charm of the first and in many ways builds on the characters to create an even better mystery with many layers.  The disappearance of the tennis player is only the beginning as Susan Carol and Stevie try to find answers.  When some of the information they find is troubling or dangerous to themselves, they continue to push ahead.  Students who like to read about sports and/or mysteries will be fans of this book. 

 


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