Friday, April 05, 2013

Guy Friday-- Sports Books

Force OutGreen, Tim. Force Out.
5 March 2013, HarperCollins
Also reviewed at Young Adult Books Central.

Joey and Zach are teammates and best buddies, so when Zach has to go on a mandatory field trip in order to pass science instead of playing in a crucial game, Joey has a plan-- the boys sneak out in the middle of the night, bike to the home of their science teacher, Mr. Kratz, give his dog a valium, and put a clamp on his truck's fuel line. Mr. Kratz doesn't make it to the train station on time, so Zach is able to play in the game. Joey's mother realizes that one of her valium tablets is gone and confronts Joey, who claims to have taken it because he can't sleep. Joey feels tremendously guilty, but is also worried about getting on the all-star team. He also has to deal with his bratty younger brother, worries about impressing Leah, and has exams to study for. He and Zach get along until they realize that only one of them will make the all-star team. Joey feels he HAS to make it-- he wants to play in the major leagues after he goes to Stanford. The guilt over Mr. Kratz's dog eats at him, and with his mother investigating and blame being cast on all sorts of people, he doesn't know how much longer he can go until he cracks.
Strengths: Lots of good baseball, friend drama, and romance. I love Green's female characters-- Leah is smart and feisty, and Joey's mother is also a very strong woman. Green's books are constantly being checked out, and the boys love his writing.
Weaknesses: This was relentlessly angsty, and I got very tired about reading details of the younger brother's obsession with boogers and cat poop. Make the kid behave, already, even if he is named after the mother's brother who was bullied. Also wasn't wild about the ending. Still, definitely ordering.

Cal Ripken, Jr.'s All-Stars Wild Pitch Cowherd, Kevin and Cal Ripken, Jr. Wild Pitch
5 March 2013, Disney Press

So the question remains-- why is Kevin Cowherd NOT writing his own books, and if he coaches basketball, why not a book about that? Baseball is the least requested type of sports book, and yet the most written. Still, have students waiting for this one, and it's not bad-- this whole series is a little more angsty than most, but packs in a lot of play-by-plays I don't understand, since my last ball experience was playing on the American Ambulance softball team in 1976.

From the Publisher:
Robbie Hammond is the hardest throwing pitcher in the Babe Ruth League. But what good is all that heat when he can't seem to find the plate? With Robbie struggling, the Orioles are suffering through a nightmare season, still looking for their first win. Robbie's teammates are whispering that the only reason he's even pitching is because he's the coach's kid. They've even given him a new nickname: Ball Four.
What the other Orioles don't know is that Robbie is still haunted by a fastball that got away from him and injured a batter in last year's All-Star Game. Now, with the pressure mounting, he's willing to try anything to get his control back, including listening to a mysterious boy who just might hold the key to helping Robbieand the Oriolessave their season.

This third action-packed book in Cal Ripken Jr.'s All-Star series will have readers on the edge of their seats as they root for Robbie's comeback.

End Zone Barber, Tiki and Ronde with Paul Mantell. End Zone.
28 August 2013, Simon and Schuster

This is book five in the series, which is hugely popular in my library. For good reason-- there are lots of descriptions of football games and scores and play offs; all things I have trouble understanding, since the last time I willingly watched a football game was probably 1977! I did like the description of where all of the professional football teams got their names, although I would have liked years to have been attached to all of them. From the Publisher:
"Tiki and Ronde are ready to end junior high with a win—a big win! Their dream is to see their team in the championship, and with the Hidden Valley Eagles’ undefeated season, their chances are strong.

But when Manny, the star quarterback, starts having headaches, the doctor says he has a minor concussion, and he is out for two weeks. The whole school is counting on the team, but with pressure building, Tiki and Ronde are starting to lose their confidence. More than that, they think their good luck is going to run out. Will the team let an injury keep them from the championship? Or can they learn to work together to bring home a win?

From real-life NFL superstar brothers Tiki and Ronde Barber, this is an inspiring story of teamwork and triumph."


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