Friday, June 01, 2018

Kicking and Screaming and Lions and Liars

39685821Moore, Steve. King of the Bench: Kicking and Screaming
March 27th 2018 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Steve suffers greatly from foot-eye dweebitis, so playing soccer sounds like a particularly bad idea. While his friends Joey, Carlos, and Becky are thrilled at being able to watch FC Barcelona play an exhibition game at Goodfellows Stadium, Steve finds it to be profoundly boring an states out loud that he hates soccer. Becky has heard him, and avoids him at school, so to get back into her good graces, Steve feels compelled to go out for the team. He's fairly confident he can warm the bench in this sport as well, but there aren't enough people who want to play soccer, and Steve ends up on the field, but his compulsion to try to catch the ball with his hands makes it clear to the coach that he is better off playing goalie-- with balls coming right at him! He does better than he expected to do, and even subs in for the JV team. Of course, there are all sorts of complications, including too many churros, a skunk, and crazy coaches, but Steve manages to hang on to his pride and restore Becky's faith in his sports acumen.

I don't know if it's the pop eyes on the characters, the goofy names (is it a little sad that there isn't really any Spiro T. Agnew middle school?), or Steve's relentless, misguided optimism, but this is a fun series. Sports books are always popular, and there should be more depictions of students traveling on buses. (It doesn't hurt to include bus-related events like the Great Gatorade Bladder Massacre-- well-hydrated athletes do have trouble traveling for a long time!)

Having a coed team adds a nice touch, and it's harder to find books about soccer than it is about other sports. Readers who play soccer will enjoy Steve's inept antics and marvel at the character of Thunderfoot, who is not only a great player, but a nice kid as well.

Push pass Kicking and Screaming to soccer fans who have read the Jake Maddox soccer titles, Morgan's Kicks series, or Fred Bowen's Go for the Goal, especially if their reading consists mainly of Wimpy Kid and Big Nate notebook novels.

35791906Beasley, Kate. Lions and Liars
June 5th 2018 by Farrar Straus Giroux
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Frederick Frederickson is angry with his parents because they are canceling the family vacation cruise because of an impending hurricane. The upside is that he gets to go to his friend Joel's birthday party. The downside is that he is in a boat that gets caught in a storm, washes away overnight, and ends up at a camp for troubled boys. Everyone there assumes he is a camper named Dashiell, and he doesn't insist on setting them straight, so falls right into camp life with the other boys, all of whom have different issues. He manages to make friends, so when the hurrican hits camp, the boys all work together, and eventually Frederick gets back to his family.
9462760Strengths: This has a great cover by Dan Santat (and Yoo's The Detention Club (2011) still circulates really well!), and is a solid, funny camp story.
Weaknesses: I could not get past the fact that Frederick was a missing child and no effort was made to get him back to his family. I'm not sure why this bothered me so much.
What I really think: This is a more of a fifth grade/elementary book so I don't think I'll be purchasing; I'd like to see more middle grade books set in summer camp.

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