Bowen, Fred. Outside Shot
March 1st 2017 by Peachtree Publishers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Richie's forte is as a shooter-- he spent a lot of time as a youngster shooting hoops in his driveway, and now scores more points than anyone on his middle school team, which he feels fortunate to make. His friend and team manager, Camila, points out that while he does make a lot of baskets, he doesn't assist or do other things that show up on her stats sheets, and she challenges him to up his game and give other people chances on the court. Of course, he stresses about this a little and his ability to make baskets suffers a little, but he does try to change the way he plays, and finds that it benefits the team.
In addition to the absolutely fabulous Camila (who is even more attractive because her father is the school custodian, so the two can practice in the gym!), who plays lacrosse and even goes running with Richie, Bowen has also included some diverse characters. When the team is first assembled, the coach tells the boys that it's important that they treat each other like family, and Richie learns that some of the boys have very difficult backgrounds. This was a nice touch, and Richie's ability to understand how easy his own life is was good to read.
As in all of these books, Bowen has a chapter at the end where famous "shooters" and their careers are discussed. He even works in, as the owner of a Christmas tree farm, an older woman who played half court basketball and was a shooter herself. Seeing how basketball affects other people in Richie's world adds an interesting layer of community.
If your Matt Christopher books are falling apart, replace them instead with everything Bowen has ever written. At 144 pages, these books offer updated sports stories for the new millenium filled with great characters, plenty of on the court action, and historical context as an added bonus.
Coming June 2017.
Just so you know.