Posts Tagged 'football'

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.

The Bridge From Me to You by Lisa Schroeder

bridge from me to you

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  327

RAC: Yes

Iowa Teen Award Winner 2016-17

Lauren has recently moved in with her aunt and uncle for reasons she would rather not discuss.  Being the new girl in the small football-obsessed town for her senior year can be difficult, however, because everyone automatically speculates about her background.  Meanwhile, Colby is also beginning his senior year as the star football player of their team who hopes to make it all the way to state this year.  The problem is that Colby would rather not play football in college, despite his father’s fervent hope that he will accept one of the scholarships he’s been offered.  Lauren and Colby meet unexpectedly one day and find they really like each other, but after a tragedy shakes Colby to the core he wonders if dating is such a good idea at this time in his life.  Lauren definitely wants to see more of Colby, but she’s also dealing with the demons of her past.  Will their timing ever be right?  Will they ever find the chance to get to know each other better or is it not meant to be?

This story is told in alternating chapters with Lauren’s being written in poetry format making her thoughts mirror her mixed emotions at living with her aunt and uncle instead of with her mom.  Colby’s story is told in prose which also reflects his thoughts and feelings as he walks the line between what he wants in life and what everyone else wants for him.  Recommended for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han.

Out of the Pocket by B. E. Stanfel

out of the pocket

Genre:  Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  209

RAC Book:  Yes

Mercer is a high school senior in 2003 struggling with his father’s deployment in Iraq.  The entire book is written in journal entries for his English teacher as well as emails to his dad in Iraq.  Mercer is focused on football and the dream of getting a full ride scholarship to the University of Iowa.  He begins writing emails to a teenager in Iraq that his dad works with occasionally.  Through these emails, Mercer begins to see that his life is very different from that of a teenager in Iraq and he should be grateful for the life he has.  At the same time, it is very difficult for Mercer to not have his dad with him for his senior year and he believes his family is starting to drift apart with his dad’s absence.  As time passes, Mercer begins to question his loyalty to this war.    Can he be the man his father wants him to be while he’s away?  Can he take care of his family the way he thinks he should?  When will his dad return to him?

This new title is written by a former teacher of Dowling Catholic High School and we are pleased to have received some copies early after it’s release.  The story captures the many worries and thoughts that go through a typical teenager’s head during his or her senior year but adds in the extra burden of having a father deployed.  The book provides a lot of detailed information concerning the war.  Students who enjoy reading about soldiers will enjoy the book as it is easy to identify with Mercer.  Recommended for those teenage boys who often have trouble finding titles that appeal to them.

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.

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.

Football Genius by Tim Green

2010 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Genre:  Sports Fiction

# of Pages:  244

RAC: No

Troy believes he can predict football plays if he watches games closely and understands the pattern of the plays.  When his mom gets a job with the Atlanta Falcons he tries to tell the defensive coach his gift so that his favorite team can win a game, but instead he is escorted off the field by security.  In the process of trying to help his team, he gets himself and his mother into a lot of trouble.  His only hope is to somehow contact the linebacker, Seth Halloway, and get him to believe in his unusual skill so that he can help the Falcons win.  Meanwhile, Troy is having trouble with his own football team because the class bully’s dad is the coach and refuses to let Troy play, despite the fact he is the best quarterback they have.  Can Troy ever get anyone to recognize his talent and passion for football?

This fun football story will engage even the most reluctant male readers.  There is excitement, drama, family turmoil, strong friendsip, and of course a lot of football action.  The age level is a big too low for my school, but the story is fun and the characters are engaging.  Sports fans will enjoy this quick read.

Cover-Up by John Feinstein

Genre: Sports Fiction

Age Level: 12 and up

# of Pages: 298 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Stevie and Susan Carol are back in this sequel to The Final Shot: A Final Four Mystery and Vanishing Act. At the beginning of this book, they have been working together on a sports show designed for kids, but Stevie gets fired when a popular singer becomes available. Stevie rebounds by getting invited to the Super Bowl as a reporter for a popular newspaper. Things become a little crazy when Susan Carol inadvertently learns that some of the drug tests were changed before the game. They decide to investigate and find that indeed several players should be ineligible to play in the big game. Finding this information puts them at great risk to both their physical well-being and their careers. They underestimated the amount of power the people who covered this up have and wonder if they will ever be taken seriously as reporters again.

Stevie and Susan Carol’s stories continue to get more interesting and well developed. This one is the most exciting and suspenseful yet and still packs in a lot of sports action. They do have a lot of lucky breaks in their methods of investigating, but they are also young teenagers who need to rely on many people coming to their rescue in order to get the story. Since the first book these two have gained great fame and admiration from many people. It’s nice that no one feels these two should not be allowed to have the access and opportunities that are handed to them despite their lack of qualifications, but in such a competitive environment it is a little hard to believe. It was a fast paced and well-written mystery that sports fans will enjoy.

Deadline by Chris Crutcher

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 15 and up

# of Pages: 316 p.

RAC list: No

Ben Wolf finds out that he is dying when he goes for his cross country physical the summer before his senior year. He decides not to tell anyone so that he can try to live as normal a life as possible with the time he has left. The doctor cannot tell his parents because Ben is 18 and threatens to sue him. Ben joins the football team instead of the cross country team in order to play one season with his slightly younger brother, the star quarterback. He also goes after the girl he has admired for a long time. As time goes on, and Ben feels the aggressive blood disease catching up with him he begins to question his decision not to tell anyone. He wonders if they will forgive him in the end. Namely, he worries about his brother, father, and mother, who suffers from a bi-polar condition.

A powerful story with a lot of unnecessary language choices. Ben’s decision on how to live out the remainder of his life is an interesting reaction to finding out his illness. Deep down he always felt he would die young and even though he was scared, his desire to live life to the fullest is refreshing and provides all of us with a guide to live by. Many things that happened to him in his senior year would never have happened had he not known he was dying and put himself out there. Hopefully, young readers will feel inspired by this book and try to go after what they want as hard as Ben does. Crutcher once again tackles the difficult issues in a way that teens, especially boys, can relate to.

November Blues by Sharon M. Draper

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 316 p.

RAC Book: Yes

In this sequel to The Battle of Jericho November Nelson is dealing with the death of her boyfriend after a hazing ritual went bad. To make matters worse, she discovers that she is pregnant. She was planning to spend the summer in an Ivy League summer program which would hopefully lead to a very productive senior year. When she tells her mother about her pregnancy she is understandably upset. November faces a lot of difficult decisions as she endures this pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Jericho, the cousin of the boy who died, is having an equally difficult time coping with his friend’s untimely death. He decides to try football in order to have something new to do instead of the band, which he previously loved but now feels is a painful reminder of his cousin. He tries to help November in any way he can, but is struggling with his own emotions as well.

This was a good story about teenage pregnancy and death, but addresses similar concepts to The First Part Last. The characters were complicated and interesting and were the strength of the story. Nothing these characters were dealing with was easy and was not portrayed that way. The ending took an unexpected turn, but was a little predictable nonetheless. Most readers will guess what November’s decision will be, but will enjoy it anyway.

 

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.

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

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.


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