Tag Archives: sports

Rebound by Kwame Alexander

Rebound by Kwame Alexander. April 2, 2018. HMH Books for Young Readers, 416 p. ISBN: .  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.0; Lexile: 780.

Before Josh and Jordan Bell were streaking up and down the court, their father was learning his own moves. In this prequel to Newbery Medal winner The Crossover, Chuck Bell takes center stage, as readers get a glimpse of his childhood and how he became the jazz music worshipping, basketball star his sons look up to.

Prequel to: The Crossover

Part of Series: Crossover (Book 0.5)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (March 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 14))
Grades 6-9. It’s the end of the school year in 1988, and Charlie Bell is flattened by the death of his father. Charlie tries to hide in the pages of his comic book collection, much to his mother’s despair. Finally she ships him off to stay with his grandparents for the summer. At first it’s just a fresh form of misery, as Charlie’s acidic grandfather goads him into physical activity in the stifling heat. Then his cousin Roxie coaxes him onto the basketball court. It’s the combination of family, friends, and mad new skills that finally help Charlie begin to rebound from his father’s death. Charlie Bell is the father of twins Jordan and Josh Bell, stars of Alexander’s Newbery Medal–winning novel Crossover (2014). Fans of Crossover will remember that Chuck “Da Man” Bell played professional basketball, and they’ll be intrigued by his initial resistance to learning the game. But this is an Alexander production, so the plot, as rich and satisfying as it is, is outdazzled by the brilliance of wordplay and syntax. There is a rhythm to each page, whether it’s the snappy give-and-take of dialogue, the throbbing of Charlie’s bottomless melancholy, or the rushing excitement of a basketball game. In addition, comics-style illustrations by Emmy-­winning artist Anyabwile bring Charlie’s fantasies of basketball glory to life. Librarians who delighted at Crossover’s popularity will be thrilled with this pitch-perfect follow-up. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Alexander is unstoppable, and his fans will be too. Have extra copies at the ready.

School Library Journal (April 1, 2018)
Gr 6 Up-In this prequel/companion to the acclaimed The Crossover, readers meet a young Charlie Bell, father of the twins from the first book. It’s 1988, and Charlie just lost his dad to a heart attack. Suppressing his grief and alienating himself from his concerned mother, Charlie gets in trouble, which results in him spending the summer with his paternal grandparents. Granddaddy is a no-nonsense, jazz-loving man, who quickly puts “Chuck” in his place and demands that the sullen teenager help out around the house and spend time with his cousin Roxie shooting hoops. Not a natural baller, Chuck gets schooled by Roxie and slowly improves his game. With firm but loving support from his family and friends, he learns to refocus and get in touch with his emotions. In a high-stakes tournament, Roxie and Chuck learn that “it’s okay/to be down/and upset/as long as/you’re not down/and out.” As in his previous novels in verse, Alexander shows off his expert command of the format, employing staccato breaks with smooth rhymes that mimic the bounce and flow of the sport. Interspersed are several comic panels illustrated by Anyabwile, which serve as fantastical imaginings-Chuck Bell dominating on the court like a superhero from his favorite comic books. As Chuck works his way through deep grief and deals with the consequences of some bad decisions, his voice is always fresh and compelling; Alexander’s poetry is buoyant and optimistic. VERDICT Fans of The Crossover will delight in learning the origin tale of Josh and JB’s dad, while new readers can comfortably jump right into the game.-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journa

About the Author

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and New York Times Bestselling author of 21 books, including The Crossover, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Passaic Poetry Prize. Kwame writes for children of all ages. His other works include Surf’s Up, a picture book; Booked, a middle grade novel; and He Said She Said, a YA novel.

Kwame believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people through his PAGE TO STAGE Writing and Publishing Program released by Scholastic. A regular speaker at colleges and conferences in the U.S., he also travels the world planting seeds of literary love (Singapore, Brazil, Italy, France, Shanghai, etc.). Recently, Alexander led a delegation of 20 writers and activists to Ghana, where they delivered books, built a library, and provided literacy professional development to 300 teachers, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an International literacy program he co-founded.

His website is www.kwamealexander.com.

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The Fighter by Michael Farris Smith

The Fighter by Michael Farris Smith. March 20, 2018. Little, Brown and Company, 256 p. ISBN: 9780316432344.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 920.

The acres and acres of fertile soil, the two-hundred-year-old antebellum house, all gone. And so is the woman who gave it to Jack, the foster mother only days away from dying, her mind eroded by dementia, the family legacy she entrusted to Jack now owned by banks and strangers. And Jack’s mind has begun to fail, too. The decades of bare-knuckle fighting are now taking their toll, as concussion after concussion forces him to carry around a stash of illegal painkillers and a notebook of names that separate friend from foe and remind him of dangerous haunts to avoid.

But in a single twisted night, he is derailed. Hijacked by a sleazy gambler out to settle a score, Jack loses the money that will clear his debt with Big Momma Sweet, the queen of Delta vice, whose deep backwoods playground offers sin to all those willing to pay. This same chain of events introduces an unlikely savior in the form of a sultry, tattooed carnival worker. Guided by what she calls her “church of coincidence,” Annette pushes Jack toward redemption in her own free-spirited way, only to discover that the world of Big Momma Sweet is filled with savage danger.

Damaged by regret, crippled by twenty-five years of fists and elbows, heartbroken by his own betrayals, Jack is forced to step into the fighting pit one last time, the stakes nothing less than life or death. With the raw power and poetry of a young Larry Brown and the mysticism of Cormac McCarthy, Michael Farris Smith cements his place as one of the finest writers in the American literary landscape.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Alcohol, Smoking, Gambling, Homophobia, Mention of prostitution and strip-club dancer, Gang culture

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (March 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 14))
Like so many noir heroes, Jack Boucher finds himself forced to take on that archetypal “one last job.” In 50-year-old, pill-addicted Jack’s case, the job is a fight, a return to the cage where, in his youth, he was a bare-knuckle legend. But now Jack owes $12,000 to Big Momma Sweet, who runs the no-holds-barred brawls, along with every other kind of vice in the Mississippi Delta. A good run at the tables had put the money in Jack’s pocket, and he was on his way to pay his debt when he ran afoul of the wrong guy and wound up in a ditch with no money and a wrecked truck. So it’s back to the cage for Jack, who knows only too well that one more fight is almost certain to be one too many for a man who has already absorbed more than his limit of blows to the head. We’ve been down this road many times, notably in Brad Smith’s One-Eyed Jacks (2000), also about a fighter with a blood vessel ready to burst, but Smith throws in a tantalizing wrinkle by having a carnival boss and his featured attraction, tattooed-lady Annette—both with existential crises of their own—stumble on the money. We know their falling stars will eventually cross with Jack’s, but we don’t know how. This crisply written tale of thwarted lives and rawboned courage will sit comfortably alongside the similarly hardscrabble work of Daniel Woodrell and Chris Offutt.

Kirkus Reviews starred (January 15, 2018)
This resourceful writer weds violence, despair, and glimmers of hope during a few tense days in the life of a once-legendary bare-knuckle fighter.In a brief prologue, Jack Boucher is abandoned at age 2 and bounces around foster homes before an unmarried woman named Maryann takes him in at age 12. As the main story opens, Jack is 50 and facing nothing but trouble. The bank is about to repossess Maryann’s house, and a vicious bookie has sent collectors to squeeze him for gambling debts. It gets worse. After winning $12,000 at a casino, Jack crashes his truck and wanders off in a daze, forgetting the money. The cash then slips into a subplot about a traveling carnival with ex-con roustabouts and a tattooed beauty named Annette. She and the carnie boss find the money, but there are complications, not least her possible ties to Jack. In flashbacks, Smith (Desperation Road, 2017, etc.) reveals the loving bonds Jack forms with Maryann and the thrill he discovers in the bare-knuckle cage, where he soon becomes a star in a bloody demimonde. But too many blows to the head leave him in constant pain and addicted to pills and booze that also cost him his edge in the cage—an edge he may need one last time. Smith could be nodding to the classical unities of place and time, with his three-day plot centered on Clarksdale, Mississippi. Other unifying factors are hard-edged, like the brass knuckles that appear four times in nearly 200 pages, or quasi-mystical, like a hawk that marks both Jack and Annette. These elements are subtly handled, but Smith shows less restraint by letting Jack’s pondering of his physical and psychological pain become a litany. A gifted storyteller who parses battered dreams and the legacies of abandonment with a harsh realism that is both saddening and engaging.

About the Author

Michael Farris Smith is the award-winning author of several novels, including Desperation Road, (Amazon Best Books, Barnes & Noble Discover, Indie Next selection), Rivers (for which he received the 2014 Mississippi Author Award for Fiction), and The Hands of Strangers. He has been awarded the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Arts Fellowship, the Transatlantic Review Award for Fiction, and the Alabama Arts Council Fellowship Award for Literature. His short fiction has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and his essays have appeared in the New York Times, Catfish Alley, Deep South magazine, and more. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife and two daughters.

His website is michaelfarrissmith.com.

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Beep: Inside the Unseen World of Baseball for the Blind by David Wanczyk

Beep: Inside the Unseen World of Baseball for the Blind by David Wanczyk. March 5, 2018. Swallow Press, 246 p. ISBN: 9780804011891.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

In Beep, David Wanczyk illuminates the sport of blind baseball to show us a remarkable version of America’s pastime. With balls tricked out to squeal three times per second, and with bases that buzz, this game of baseball for the blind is both innovative and intense. And when the best beep baseball team in America, the Austin Blackhawks, takes on its international rival, Taiwan Homerun, no one’s thinking about disability. What we find are athletes playing their hearts out for a championship.

Wanczyk follows teams around the world and even joins them on the field to produce a riveting inside narrative about the game and its players. Can Ethan Johnston, kidnapped and intentionally blinded as a child in Ethiopia, find a new home in beep baseball, and a spot on the all-star team? Will Taiwan’s rookie MVP Ching-kai Chen—whose superhuman feats on the field have left some veterans suspicious—keep up his incredible play? And can Austin’s Lupe Perez harness his competitive fire and lead his team to a long-awaited victory in the beep baseball world series?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Discrimination, Mild sexual themes, Alcohol, Smoking

 

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About the Author

David Wanczyk grew up a Red Sox fan and once gave up twenty-seven runs in an inning before realizing he’d never make it to Fenway Park—or varsity. He’s coped with that by writing on novel sports for Salon, Slate, Boston Globe Magazine, Texas Monthly, and other venues. The editor of New Ohio Review, he lives in Athens, Ohio, with his wife, Megan, their daughter, Natalie, their son, Ben, and the family heirloom—an autographed Pedro Martinez hat.

His website is www.davidwanczyk.com

Teacher Resources

Official site of the National Beep Baseball Association

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Rising Above: Inspiring Women in Sports by Gregory Zuckerman

Rise Above: Inspiring Women in Sports by Gregory Zuckerman. February 20, 2018. Philomel Books, 224 p. ISBN: 9780399547478.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.7; Lexile: 1070.

Behold the power of women! These are the inspirational real-life stories of female superstar athletes Serena and Venus Williams, Simone Biles, Carli Lloyd, and more — role models all. For sports fans, aspiring athletes and readers of sports biographies. 

Growing up in a crime-plagued, gang-infested neighborhood, Venus and Serena Williams were led to believe their environment was not a place where dreams could come true. It took a relentless determination, a burning desire to be the best, and a willingness to conquer racial barriers for them to emerge as tennis legends. Simone Biles was raised by a single mother with addiction issues, forcing her grandparents to intervene. But Simone soon discovered balance beams and gymnastics mats, setting her on a path toward Olympic greatness. Carli Lloyd, meanwhile, believed her youth soccer career was really starting to take off, only to be cut from her team. Instead of quitting the sport she loved, Carli rebuilt her confidence from the ground up, ultimately becoming one of the leaders on the World Cup Champion US Women’s Soccer team.

The athletes featured in this book met earth-shaking challenges head on, and through hard work and perseverance, went on to conquer the sports world. This collection of mini biographies, complete with first-hand content drawn from interviews, is a source of inspiration and self-empowerment for kids and sports fans of all ages.

Also included in the book: Wilma Rudolph (track and field), Mo’ne Davis (Little League baseball), Swin Cash (basketball), Elena Delle Donne (basketball), Bethany Hamilton (surfing), Ronda Rousey (mixed martial arts), and Kerri Strug (gymnastics).

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination, Drugs, Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 12))
Grades 3-7. In this companion to Rising Above: How 11 Athletes Overcame Challenges in Their Youth to Become Stars (2016), the authors turn their attention to 11 more athletes, this time all woman, who also rose above adversity to become standouts in their fields. With the exception of Wilma Rudolph, the featured women are current or recent stars. Numerous quotes from interviews and primary sources lend a conversational tone to the quick, easy-to-read profiles. As students read about Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, who was raised by loving grandparents after her addict mother lost custody; Grand Slam tennis champs Venus and Serena Williams, who learned to play amid gunshots in their rough Los Angeles neighborhood; and pro surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm at age 13 to a shark attack, they’ll discover that even stars have suffered from gender inequality, poverty, racism, body shaming, bulimia, bullying, self-doubt, and other relatable problems. What will inspire athletes of any ability or gender is how these women turned to help when needed and learned to accept themselves inside and out.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2017)
A reader does not have to be a sports fan to be inspired by these compelling minibiographies of athletes who conquered considerable adversities to realize great achievements.Neglected by a single mother with alcohol and drug addictions, Simone Biles went to live with her grandparents and discovered balance beams and gymnastics mats, which set her on the path to Olympic glory. Serena and Venus Williams overcame racial barriers to become tennis legends. Elena Delle Donne battled Lyme disease while working to become a star WNBA player. Bethany Hamilton continued her career as a professional surfer after losing her left arm in a shark attack. The Zuckermans close with the dramatic story of gymnast Kerri Strug, who, despite a severe injury, executed a gold medal–winning performance in the 1996 Olympics that made her a national sports hero. Other athletes profiled include Mo’ne Davis, Carli Lloyd, Wilma Rudolph, Ronda Rousey, and Swin Cash. Whether it was racism, humiliation for their unique body types, or serious medical issues, all the athletes profiled overcame their imposing obstacles through fierce determination and, the Zuckermans are careful to note, with the help of coaches, counselors, mentors, and therapists. They all refused to blame others for their difficulties and accepted responsibility for their successes and setbacks, a lesson that is delivered firmly and naturally. An inspiring, empowering collection of true stories of perseverance and resolve. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

About the Author

Gregory Zuckerman is a senior writer at the Wall Street Journal, where he has been a reporter for twelve years. He pens the widely read “Heard on the Street” column and writes about hedge funds, investing, and other Wall Street topics. He is a two-time winner of the Gerald Loeb Award for coverage of the credit crisis, the demise of WorldCom, and the collapse of hedge fund Amaranth Advisors.

His website is www.gregoryzuckerman.com.

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Checked by Cynthia Kadohata

Checked by Cynthia Kadohata. February 6, 2018. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 416 p. ISBN: 9781481446617.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.9; Lexile: 760.

Hockey is Conor’s life. His whole life. He’ll say it himself, he’s a hockey beast. It’s his dad’s whole life too—and Conor is sure that’s why his stepmom, Jenny, left. There are very few things Conor and his dad love more than the game, and one of those things is their Doberman, Sinbad. When Sinbad is diagnosed with cancer, Conor chooses to put his hockey lessons and practices on hold so they can pay for Sinbad’s chemotherapy.

But without hockey to distract him, Conor begins to notice more. Like his dad’s crying bouts, and his friend’s difficult family life. And then Conor notices one more thing: without hockey, the one thing that makes him feel special, is he really special at all?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 5-8. “Hockey is in my soul,” says Conor, whose father actually played in the NHL for three weeks. Conor’s Japanese American mother died when he was two, but his recently divorced dad completely supports Conor’s devotion to the sport, though it means driving him to private lessons that aren’t easy to afford on a policeman’s salary. A stable, reliable kid, 11-year-old Conor is shaken when he learns that his dog, a Doberman named Sinbad, has cancer and requires expensive treatment. To save money, Conor gives up lessons and starts doing odd jobs for neighbors, but hearing his father cry at night makes him wonder if he’s still asking too much. Immediately engaging, this perceptive novel focuses on the intricacies of Conor’s day-to-day life, while exploring his unusually close relationships with Dad and Sinbad, his attempts to cope during a period of ongoing crisis, and the alternate universe that is the ice during lessons, practices, and games. Even when the story begins to veer toward drama, it soon returns to everyday routine. Yet, the first-person narrative becomes increasingly absorbing throughout the novel, as the characters reveal themselves more fully. Kadohata offers a vivid, memorable portrayal of a boy within his family, his sport, and his gradually broadening world.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2018)
An 11-year-old elite hockey player struggles with multiple real-world issues while sidelined from pursuing his dream of playing in the NHL.Conor MacRae, who is half-white, half-Japanese, and wise beyond his years, lives with his dad, Keith, a white cop, and his dog, Sinbad. Conor’s mom died many years ago, and he is estranged from his Japanese grandparents. When Sinbad is diagnosed with cancer, the treatments are so costly that Conor cuts back on ice time to help save money. The list of adult responsibilities that Conor manages is formidable for such a young boy, and the more time he spends off the ice, the more he notices the tougher parts of life. Kadohata weaves a parallel between Sinbad’s cancer and a concussion Conor suffers in the second half of the book, with boy and dog functioning at less than 100 percent. The dog is not only companion and protector, but a beloved comfort in a tough world, a relationship as tenderly realized as that between Conor and his dad. The Korean traditions of his best friend, Jae-won, highlight Conor’s distance from his Japanese heritage. As the season progresses, Conor grows in maturity and strength, learning more from mistakes than successes. Strong readers will enjoy a robust identity story that takes an unvarnished look at life. Zorat’s chapter-head illustrations help set the tone. Best for dog lovers, hockey fans, and elite athletes. (Fiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Cynthia Kadohata is a Japanese American writer known for writing coming of age stories about Asian American women.

She spent her early childhood in the South; both her first adult novel and first children’s novel take place in Southern states. Her first adult novel was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Her first children’s book, Kira-Kira, won the 2005 Newbery Medal. Her first published short story appeared in The New Yorker in 1986.

Her website is www.cynthiakadohata.com

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Becoming Kareem by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. November 21, 2017. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 304 p. ISBN: 9780316555388.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.3.

The first memoir for young readers by sports legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

At one time, Lew Alcindor was just another kid from New York City with all the usual problems: He struggled with fitting in, with pleasing a strict father, and with overcoming shyness that made him feel socially awkward. But with a talent for basketball, and an unmatched team of supporters, Lew Alcindor was able to transform and to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

From a childhood made difficult by racism and prejudice to a record-smashing career on the basketball court as an adult, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s life was packed with “coaches” who taught him right from wrong and led him on the path to greatness. His parents, coaches Jack Donahue and John Wooden, Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, and many others played important roles in Abdul-Jabbar’s life and sparked him to become an activist for social change and advancement. The inspiration from those around him, and his drive to find his own path in life, are highlighted in this personal and awe-inspiriting journey.

Written especially for young readers, Becoming Kareem chronicles how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar become the icon and legend he is today, both on and off the court.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Racial taunts

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is nearing 70, and from that vantage, he writes, he is able to see the big picture, which is comprised of the many details, observations, and revelations that comprise this autobiography. It begins with a name. Abdul-Jabbar was born Lewis Alcindor. It wasn’t until he was a 24-year-old student of Islam that he assumed the name the world knows, which signaled who he wanted to be—and is the substance of this fine, thoughtful memoir. More than a play-by-play sports story, it’s an honest, powerful exposition of what it means to be black in white America, offering a de facto history of the civil rights movement. But it’s also a celebration of education and the teachers who helped him become Kareem; teachers like his UCLA mentor Coach John Wooden; Dr. John Henrik Clarke of the Harlem Youth Action Project, who Abdul-Jabbar says was crucial to him in “understanding my path; sports legends Wilt Chamberlain and Muhammad Ali; and others. Most of all, this is a coming-of-age story that focuses entirely on Abdul-Jabbar’s childhood and young adulthood and demonstrates how this foundation would lead to his becoming one of the most successful and famous basketball players of all time. An inspiring and very human story.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 1, 2017)
One of the greatest basketball players of all time reminisces on the lessons that pushed him into a life of personal reinvention.In our current moment when black athletes are joining the national confrontation with the nation’s overwhelming legacy of racial injustice, few are better suited to provide context than Abdul-Jabbar. At 24, the newly minted NBA Finals MVP publicly embraced his conversion to Islam by renaming himself, choosing to become the person he wanted to be. The reactions stretched from confusion to outrage and betrayal. For this Harlem native, the influence of the massive 1960s civil rights and ’70s Black Power movements and the examples set by Dr. Martin Luther King, historian John Henrik Clarke, Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali had a lasting influence on the superstar and scholar. Abdul-Jabbar recalls them and more, including most significantly coach John Wooden of UCLA, where Abdul-Jabbar and the Bruins accumulated an awe-inspiring 88-2 record. Wooden’s lessons would extend well beyond the basketball court. Abdul-Jabbar lets his many other, worldly accomplishments sit in the background, choosing to focus on the long road of self-discovery, which included many blemishes, mistakes, and struggles. Wrestling with what it means to be black, determining his own responsibility and capacity to respond to injustice, and becoming the “kindest, gentlest, smartest, lovingest, version” of himself takes center stage in this retelling of the early part of his life. Like the author’s unstoppable sky hook, this timely book is a clear score. (Memoir. 10-16)

About the Author

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. Since retiring, he has been an actor, a basketball coach, and the author of many New York Times bestsellers. Abdul-Jabbar is also a columnist for many news outlets, such as The Guardian and The Hollywood Reporter, writing on a wide range of subjects including race, politics, age, and pop culture. In 2012, he was selected as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador and in 2016 Abdul-Jabbar was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award which recognizes exceptional meritorious service.

He lives in Southern California.  His website is kareemabduljabbar.com

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Touchdown Kid by Tim Green

Touchdown Kid by Tim Green. October 3, 2017. HarperCollins, 320 p. ISBN: 9780062293855.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.0.

Cory has always been passionate about football. But life for him and his single mom has been hard, making it difficult for Cory to play. And though Cory is a good kid, he’s constantly surrounded by negative influences. But when the coach from an elite private school with one of the best football programs in the country recognizes his talents on the field, Cory is presented with an unbelievable opportunity.

Cory knows that football could be his ticket out. But leaving to attend private school also means struggling to fit into a world where most people look at him and just see a scholarship kid from the wrong side of town. Cory knows that if he can fight hard enough—both on and off the field—he may be able to secure a bright future that looks different from his unpromising past.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination; Classism

 

About the Author

Tim Green, for many years a star defensive end with the Atlanta Falcons, is a man of many talents. He’s the author of such gripping books for adults as the New York Times bestselling The Dark Side of the Game and a dozen suspense novels, including Exact Revenge and Kingdom Come. Tim graduated covaledictorian from Syracuse University and was a first-round NFL draft pick. He later earned his law degree with honors. Tim has worked as an NFL analyst for FOX Sports and as an NFL commentator for National Public Radio, among other broadcast experience.

He lives with his wife, Illyssa, and their five children in upstate New York.  His website is timgreenbooks.com

 

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Patina by Jason Reynolds

Patina by Jason Reynolds. August29, 2017. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 233 p. ISBN: 9781481450188.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.6; Lexile: 710.

Patina, or Patty, runs like a flash. She runs for many reasons—to escape the taunts from the kids at the fancy-schmancy new school she’s been sent to since she and her little sister had to stop living with their mom. She runs from the reason WHY she’s not able to live with her “real” mom any more: her mom has The Sugar, and Patty is terrified that the disease that took her mom’s legs will one day take her away forever. So Patty’s also running for her mom, who can’t. But can you ever really run away from any of this? As the stress builds up, it’s building up a pretty bad attitude as well. Coach won’t tolerate bad attitude. No day, no way. And now he wants Patty to run relay…where you have to depend on other people? How’s she going to do THAT?

Sequel to: Ghost

Part of Series: Track (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 22))
Grades 5-8. When Patina “Patty” Jones, the fastest girl on the Defenders track team, comes in second place in a race—a fact she finds unacceptable—her rage is so intense that she mentally checks out. In an effort to make her into a team player, Coach assigns her to the 4×800 relay race and makes the relay team do hokey things like waltz in practice to “learn each others’ rhythms.” Pfft. Meanwhile, Patty feels completely out of place at her rich-girl academy. And then there’s the really hard stuff. Like how her father died, how her mother “got the sugar” (diabetes) and it took her legs, and now Patty and her little sister live with their aunt Emily and uncle Tony. Reynolds’ again displays his knack for capturing authentic voice in both Patty’s inner monologues and the spoken dialogue. The plot races as fast as the track runners in it, and—without ever feeling like a book about “issues”—it deftly tackles topics like isolation, diverse family makeup, living with illness, losing a parent, transcending socioeconomic and racial barriers, and—perhaps best of all—what it’s like for a tween to love their little sister more than all the cupcakes in the world. The second entry in the four-book Track series, this serves as a complete, complex, and sparkling stand-alone novel.

Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2017)
Back for the second leg of the Track series relay, the Defenders team has passed the baton to title character Patina, nicknamed Patty. First introduced to readers in Ghost (rev. 11/16), Patty has been forced to grow up quickly. After her father dies suddenly, Patty’s role in raising her younger sister Maddy grows larger as their mother gets ill and ultimately becomes a double amputee due to complications from diabetes. While moving in with their godparents, who have adopted them both, has relieved some of the pressure, Patty is not always certain how to relinquish her role as caregiver. She takes it upon herself to braid Maddy’s hair (as opposed to letting their adoptive mother, Momly, do it) because “ain’t no rule book for white people to know how to work with black hair.” Patty pushes Ma in her wheelchair to and from church on Sundays. She does all the work on her group project at school, and angrily counts her second-place ribbon at a track meet as “fake.” At some point, Momly reminds her, “Folks who try to do everything are usually avoiding one thing.” Those words ring true when an almost-tragedy strikes the household and Patty is forced to face the “thing”–the loss she feels at the death of her father–and start to trust others. For his first book featuring a female protagonist, Reynolds has done an excellent job of providing insights into the life of an African American middle schooler. Track scenes (and drama) are interspersed with home and school scenes (and drama); and as the new girl at an elite academy, Patty’s interactions with her vapid “hair-flipper” classmates, especially, are both humorous and authentic. eboni njoku

About the Author

After earning a BA in English from The University of Maryland, College Park, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where you can often find him walking the four blocks from the train to his apartment talking to himself. Well, not really talking to himself, but just repeating character names and plot lines he thought of on the train, over and over again, because he’s afraid he’ll forget it all before he gets home. His website is www.jasonwritesbooks.com.

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Backfield Boys by John Feinstein

Backfield Boys by John Feinstein. August 29, 2017. Farrar Straus Giroux, 353 p. ISBN: 9780374305925.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 840.

In Backfield Boys, renowned sports journalist and New York Times–bestselling author John Feinstein tells a thrilling story of friendship, football, and a fight for justice.

Freshman footballers Jason Roddin and Tom Jefferson are a perfect pair: Jason is a blazing-fast wide-receiver, while his best friend Tom has all the skills a standout quarterback needs. After summer football camp at an elite sports-focused boarding school, the boys are thrilled to be invited back with full-ride scholarships.

But on day one of practice, they’re shocked when the team’s coaching staff makes Tom, a black kid, a receiver and Jason, a white kid, a quarterback. Confronted with mounting evidence of deep-seated racial bias, the boys speak out, risking their scholarships and chances to play. As tensions ratchet up with coaches and other players, Tom and Jason must decide how much they’re willing to lose in a conflict with powerful forces that has nothing―and everything―to do with the game they love.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination, Mild sexual themes, Racism

 

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About the Author

John Feinstein is the author of more than thirty books, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers A Season on the Brink and A Good Walk Spoiled. He is also the author of numerous kids mysteries. His first young adult mystery, Last Shot, won the Edgar Allen Poe Award. John also works for The Washington Post, The Golf Channel, Sirius XM Radio, and Comcast Sportsnet.

Her website is jfeinsteinbooks.com.

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Backfield Boys on Amazon

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The Quarterback Whisperer by Bruce Arians

The Quarterback Whisperer by Bruce Arians. July 11, 2017. Hachette Books, 256 p. ISBN: 9780316432269.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

What is an elite NFL QB and what separates that player from the others? One answer is the coach they share. In the recent history of the biggest game on earth, one man is the common thread that connects several of the very best in the sport: Peyton Manning; Ben Roethlisberger; Andrew Luck; and the resurgent Carson Palmer. That coach is Bruce Arians.

A larger than life visionary who trained under the tutelage of Bear Bryant, Arians has had a major impact on the development and success of each of these players. For proof beyond the stats, go to the sources.

Known around the game as the ‘quarterback whisperer’, Arians has an uncanny ability to both personally connect with his quarterbacks and to locate what the individual triggers are for that player to succeed. No two quarterbacks are the same. And yet with Arians they always share success. In this book Arians will explain how he does it

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Underage drinking

 

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About the Author

Bruce Arians is currently the head coach of the NFC powerhouse the Arizona Cardinals. In three years he has taken the team from last place in their division to the NFC Championship. He has also guided quarterback Carson Palmer to the best results of his long career. He has twice been named the NFL’s Head Coach of the Year.

His website is www.ariansfamilyfoundation.com

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The Quarterback Whisperer on Amazon

The Quarterback Whisperer on Goodreads

The Quarterback Whisperer on JLG

The Quarterback Whisperer Publisher Page