Saturday, April 07, 2012

Spring Sports!

Wooo hoooo! I am halfway through the 2012 challenge of reading 600 books! I know, right? I've been really motivated by getting boxes of ARCs from Baker and Taylor, and being a reviewer for Young Adult Books Central. Do I really read five or six books on some days? Absolutely! An average middle grade book takes me about 45 minutes to read, so if I get home at 3:00 and can manage to stay up until 9:00, I can get a lot read. Much more fun than stuff like housework and feeding people. And I'm working.

Swan, Bill. Mud Happens.
In this second book in the series, Matt and the Lovey runners are back, but Ms. Wellesley can't continue as their coach after the school board decides that they can't train over the winter at the Civic Dome because of liability reasons. Matt and Ashely approach Joe Calder, the coach of the competitive Riders running club to work with their group, and he agrees only if they can get Ms. Wellesley to step up her training for the Olympic team tryouts. Matt has trouble pacing himself in his running, and finds help from an unlikely source-- the school custodian, Tony, who coaches the nearby Vikings club. When the group enters a race, will Matt's training pay off? Will he choose to join a different running club from his friends?
Strengths: Again, good details about running. I liked Matt a little more; he is happier having settled in from the family move, although his sister is struggling with college decisions, which is a nice touch.
Weaknesses: Canadian cross country is set up differently. I imagine the student who checked out the first book is about done; I'm curious to see what he thought. Recruiting student athlete from their home schools is frowned upon in the US, so it was odd to me that Matt had to make a choice!

Swan, Bill. Road Rage.
Matt and his friends are going to run the Alfie Shrubb race, so while their class is doing research at the library, Matt slips out to the museum that has a book on the man. He gets caught and has to do community service, but even worse, the valuable book that he borrows briefly goes missing, and the police get involved! His family is still struggling-- his sister with college decisions, and the family whether they should move back to London or not. Since Matt is in trouble, he doesn't get to run in the race but is put to work handing out water a good way from the end of the race, where he ends up helping a former world championship competitor who is struggling with MS over the finish line.
Strengths: I like the flirtation with Ashley-- very well done. I started to get to know the other characters in the book a bit better, and the portrayal of Matt being in trouble for being in the wrong place at the wrong time was well done. The inclusion of the runner with MS was also well done.
Weaknesses: I knew who had taken the book early on, but students might not catch that!

Lynch, Janet Nichols. Racing California.
Holiday House, 1 April 2012

Evan is thrilled when he meets biking legend Dash Shipley while working as a tour guide with a cycling company. At first, he is mistaken for someone else, but is still approached to be part of a racing team that Shipley is putting together. The training takes a huge amount of work, which makes it difficult for Evan to get through his senior year and have time to spend with his girlfriend, who wants to become a doctor as much as Evan does. Still, biking is what Evan loves best, so it is worth the hard work and sacrifice to be able to race with a team. Evan idolizes Dash, so when it becomes clear that Dash is not necessarily a nice guy, and doesn't feel that the rules apply to him, Evan has to decide if racing is really the path in life he wants to take.
Strengths: Lots of great descriptions of bike racing, which were fun to read. I ride a bike nearly every day, but I never get to ride up mountains! Evan is also an interesting character with a lot of drive, and it's hard to find books concerning students getting ready for college.
Weaknesses: One iffy scene with a bike groupie who brings Evan back to her room. Nothing happens, but they wake up together. One f-bomb, if I remember.


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