Friday, August 25, 2017

Rich Wallace's Game Face Series
I rarely buy books that I have not read, but when I saw this sports series by the fantastic Rich Wallace, I knew it would be a big hit with my readers who love his Winning Season series. At 112 pages each, these books are even more fantastic than I expected because the series doesn't have to be read in order! Instead of numbering the spines, there is a list of the books on the back of each volume with the titles in order. If students feel compelled to read them that way, they can; if they only want to read about basketball, that's an option as well.

I am SO excited to meet Mr. Wallace at Kidlitcon when he and Sandra Neill Wallace, Eucabeth Odhiambo, Sue Macy, David A. Kelly, and Phil Bildner join me for the discussion panel "Go Sports! Do the thing! Win the points!: Sports Books for the Unathletic".

27178321Wallace, Rich. Between the Sticks (Game Face #1)
January 1st 2016 by Calico

Griffin enjoys playing defense on his rec soccer league even though it occasionally leaves him winded because of his asthma. When the team's goalie sprains his wrist, Griffin is tapped to be the replacement because of his size and the fact he has some background playing the position. He's not thrilled about it, but tries his best, and eventually comes to enjoy his new role. His parents run a local diner, so are very busy, and Griffin spends a lot of time with his young brother Connor so that he doesn't have to be bored at the babysitter's.
Strengths: There are lots of details about playing soccer: how to do well at various positions, how to get along with teammates, how to be a good sport. The other members of the team get along but sometimes have their difficulties. The thing I liked best, however, was the depiction of Griffin's family. This had a very similar feel to Wallace's very popular Southside Sports.
Weaknesses: Griffin blushes a lot. struck me as an odd detail.
What I really think: These will never be on the shelf!

Wallace, Rich. Chasing the Baton (Game Face #2)
Published January 1st 2016 by Calico

"It is track season and seventh-grader Marcus is struggling at the 400 meter distance and upset that his best friend Torry jokes about his slow times--so he is determined to build up enough strength to earn a place on the 4x400 meter relay at the upcoming track and field meet. "

Griffin does shot put, so doesn't have as prominent a position in this book. My favorite parts in this were Torry and Marcus' dads, who have an accounting business in town. The two families live across the street from each other, and it just seems so ideal!

27178323Wallace, Rich. No Relief (Game Face #3)
January 1st 2016 by Calico

"Seventh-grader Javon is the relief pitcher for his summer league baseball team and they are in the championship tournament--trouble is there is one player on the team they are playing that he cannot seem to get out. "

Javon's father is Korean, and his mother is African-American. His older brother is very nice to him, and teaches him to play the drums. Javon is a little leery of his own abilities, but gains confidence the more he practices. Interesting bit of this book: Lots of ice cream! As much as middle school students like to eat, I think they will find the descriptions of meals and snacks in these books appealing.

27178324Wallace, Rich. Pressure Point (Game Face #3)
January 1st 2016 by Calico

"Seventh-grader Torry is feeling pressure on the basketball court because he has to guard a player on the rival team who is bigger and older than he is."

Torry is really nice to his younger sister Nicki and reads to her, which is sweet. He is very interested in science, and spends a lot of time working on a school project. Interesting bit of this book: Torry has a lot of trouble falling asleep because his mind is full of so many things.

And yes, you can tell it is the start of the school year when I post reviews that are not quite complete. Because of my summer reading, I have blog posts until the beginning of November, which is a good thing. With cross country practice almost every night after school, I am lucky just to read the new books from the fall order. Reviewing them; that's entirely too much time that could be spent sleeping!


  1. Oh, these look really good. Are they only available in library binding?

  2. We don't have these in our system but I will contact She Who Orders Books and see if could get them.