Coy, John. Love of the Game.
This is the third in the 4 for 4 series that also includes: Top of the Order, Eyes on the Goal, and Take Your Best Shot.
Starting middle school has Jackson worried because he is also having to move into his mother's boyfriend's home. He already has a father; he doesn't need Ted, too. There are older students who are giving him a hard time, classes are difficult, and he is forced to be in a reading club. He has to take a food class, which is okay because there is a girl he likes in it. The one thing he looks forward to is football, but he is worried that his friend Diego won't go out for the team because his mother is afraid of injuries. His friend Gig is still concerned about his father in Afghanistan. Will all of these things get Jackson down, or will he be able to work everything out?
Strengths: This is a nice easy read for boys who like sports, even though there aren't as many descriptions of games. Readers of Rich Wallace will like these. I liked the book club and the shout out to Ritter's baseball books!
Weaknesses: Again with the bullies threatening swirlies and taking kids' lunch money. Sigh. I suppose it happens in some places.
Skead, Robert and Mike Simmel. Mighty Mike Bounces Back.
Mike has had epilepsy since he was two, and is on medication but still has seizures. When he was younger, they were so bad that his parents made him wear a bike helmet all the time! When he discovers basketball, if becomes his obsession. It's not enough to practice before and after school-- he wants to be on the team. With the help of his doctor and the patience of his teammates, he gets on the team. Even though he still has seizures (and sometimes has them at very inopportune moments), he is able to be a successful member of the team. Based on the real life experiences of Mike Simmel, who plays for the Harlem Wizards exhibition team.
Strengths: A short basketball book that also has a lot of information about epilepsy.
Weaknesses: A bit didactic, and the book would have benefitted greatly from better design, although the cover is good. The print is very tiny; since the book is so thin, I would have chosen a larger font!
Brief Job Update: It looks like I may be at one school next year, and it will hopefully be the one that I have been at for the last ten years (fifteen if you count volunteering!). This is, of course, marvelous good news, but next year could still be sad. The length of the day will probably be cut, and SSR could be a victim. The most important part of SSR for me is that I see ALL of the children in the building once a week, and they have an adult in their lives who has a vested interest in making sure that they have a book at all times. I try to get out to study halls to check, but SSR teachers see the the same group of students every day and can make sure.
There are a lot of teachers who are retiring even though they have a lot of good years left, in order to save the jobs of younger teachers. People will be moved. Students will have limited electives. We'll have cross country, but the fee will be $150. I have some runners who could barely afford $50. I saw my first cockroach in the building because of the custodial cuts.
We will be grateful for what we have. And speaking of which, go congratulate Mother Reader on her Star Volunteer Award. Why is it that as conscientious, hard working adults, we still feel we are not worthy? I just won a GEM Award, and feel sort of like Mother Reader does!