And speaking of sports books, if anyone still needs to nominate a book for the Cybils Awards, no one has nominated either Tim Green's Unstoppable or Mike Lupica's Game Changers, which were my mother choices. Nominations close on October 15, so head on over to see if your favorite book for the past year was nominated.
Bowen, Fred. Real Hoops.
1 February 2011, Peachtree Publishers
Ben and Logan need a point guard for their school's basketball team, and they recruit Hud at the local rec center. The coach of the school team is very strict, and one of the rules is that players can't participate in pick up games during the season so they don't get injured or develop bad habits. Hud, however, keeps playing because he doesn't like the drills at school and feels that the rec center games make him a better player. As a captain, how will Ben tell his coach and risk losing a team mate they really need?
Strengths: I always like Bowen's historical tie ins, and this included descriptions of the Rucker Park pick up games and listed all the players who were produced by those. Simple but effective writing, problems that add interest to the story-- perfect for boys who want sports books and might not be the strongest readers.
Weaknesses: I have trouble with the sports details!
Bowen, Fred. Quarterback Season.
1 August 2011
Matt is given a journal writing assignment in his language arts class, so makes half-hearted attempts to describe his role on his middle school football team. At the end of every chapter, his teacher makes comments on how he could improve his writing. We find out about how Matt is doing as a quarterback, his problems with another player whom he feels is a threat, his attempts to help a teammate with his math (which involves asking the team statistician-- a girl-- to tutor him), as well as other small details of his life. The historical reference here is Jerry Kramer's 1968 bestseller, Instant Replay.
Strengths: I want to process this immediately and give it to one of my readers who will ONLY read short sports books. I think it would be an excellent way for him to improve his own writing. I love how the writing changes and is modeled for students.
Weaknesses: A tiny bit contrived, but I still love it!
Buyea, Rob. Mr. Terupt Falls Again.
9 October 2012, Random House Children's Books, ARC from Netgalley.com
The fifth graders who were in Mr. Terupt's class the year that he started his awesome teaching career but also became gravely injured are glad to have him again for 6th grade. In chapters from different students' perspectives, we see how the students lives and the classroom are different. Lexie is trying to grow up too fast and is hanging out with high schoolers who are getting her in trouble. Peter is trying to deal with his guilt. Luke is staying on top of being the best student in the class. The assignments are different-- the class reads The Westing Game and needs to solve the mystery, there is an ill-fated academic exchange with Woods View school, and Mr. Terupt assigns the class something major-- planning his wedding to Ms. Newberry! Problems arise throughout the year-- Jeffrey finds an abandoned baby along the side of the road, and his family fosters young Asher, several boys try out wrestling, and Mr. Terupt's health looks suspect at times. Through it all, the class is glad to be together and have Mr. Terupt as their teacher.
Strengths: Not many stories take place mainly in the context of school, and the first book in this series, Because of Mr. Terupt, was very popular among teachers.
Weaknesses: I didn't get much of a feel for Mr. Terupt's personality in this one, and there were TWO girls who got their period and one girl who stuffs her bra with toilet paper. Uncomfortable and unnecessary. Again, I would much rather have a wrestling book from Mr. Buyea. I have boys BEGGING for wrestling stories, but no one asking for heart warming classroom tales.