Archive for Sports

Out of Bounds

Written by Fred Bowen

Bowen came up with another gem in this novel about Nate, an eighth grade soccer player. Nate is a forward on the Strikers, a U14 team playing in a fall league at the local SoccerPlex. Last year, his team came in second, so they’re all determined to be better. The problem is, the first place team, the Monarchs, also appears to be better. Nate has a side rivalry with his young aunt, Lizzie, who plays in a women’s adult league. Bowen follows Nate through the entire season, noting the highlights and lowlights of each encounter, on and off the field. Nate learns from Lizzie that real sportsmen don’t like to win by treating others badly. So, he refuses to follow through on a goal in a crucial game when his opponent appears to be injured. Of course, one of his teammates gives him a hard time when they lose the game. Eventually, he finds that Lizzie was right all along. Good sportsmanship is highly valued by the elite.

Many of the game situations used in the book are straight from famous games played in the past several years. Fourth graders will learn about the history and rules of the game. It’s a fun and exciting way to see human relations in practice.

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  • Out of BoundsTitle: Out of Bounds
  • Author: Fred Bowen
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 144 pages
  • Grade Level: 3 to 7
  • Genre: Sports, Family, Sportsmanship
  • ISBN: 978-1561458455
  • Extras: The Real Story, an author’s note

Sugar and Ice

Written by Kate Messner

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In this heartwarming tale, twelve-year-old Claire Boucher has a pretty good life in Vermont. Her parents gather maple sap from over 500 trees each year. She does well in school, she has a solid best friend in Natalie, and she loves skating. When a high-profile Russian skating coach spots her at the Maple Show, he offers her a scholarship for training in Lake Placid, an hour-and-a-half drive from Mojimuk Falls. How can she say no to such a magnificent opportunity? At the same time, how can she expect her parents to drive her to Lake Placid several times a week? She accepts the scholarship and is thrown into to a whirlwind of excitement, self-doubt, exhilaration, no time for Natalie, new friends, cutthroat competition, and intangible rewards. After a lot of heartache and missteps, her skating improves but she still misses the other things in her life. And the training atmosphere is not quite what she expected, either.

Fourth graders and older, especially girls, will love the idea that anyone can be discovered. Readers will learn a lot about competitive sports, and specifically skating terms. Claire’s math project about Fibonacci numbers is a strong theme that should interest even haters of math. Both of these themes provide ample room for reading activities. Ultimately, Claire learns a lot about herself and about what’s important in her life. She learns to stand up for herself and that it’s okay to say no.

Learn about the author and her other books at her website: www.katemessner.com.

  • Sugar and IceTitle: Sugar and Ice
  • Author: Kate Messner
  • Publisher: Walker & Company/Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 288 pages
  • Genre: Contemporary middle grade fiction, figure skating, math, friendship
  • ISBN: 978-0-8027-2330-7

Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio

Written by Robert Skead
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

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Imagine being a rookie baseball player and the coaches put you up against the best pitcher in the sport. That actually happened in 1936. Joe DiMaggio was a hot-shot player who wanted to be in the New York Yankees. To see if he was ready for the big leagues, the owners decided to test him. They asked him to play on a team called Dick Bartell’s All Stars, a team that would go where ever they could set up a game. They also called the Satchel Paige All Stars, a team of African Americans who could not play in the all-white National Baseball League. Joe DiMaggio, a rookie who hadn’t even been hired, going up again Satchel Paige, perhaps the best pitcher of all time, had to be scary for the young man especially as the hype around the game grew. Paige’s very first pitch hit DiMaggio and was meant to undermine his confidence. For much of the game, the score was tied. DiMaggio really wanted to hit one of those pitches. In the tenth inning, with a runner on first, DiMaggio’s savvy playing and base hit allowed the runner to score and won the game.

Great story for boys. The message here is to keep your confidence no matter how much the odds are against you. Boys can’t hear this too much and it is all the more powerful because “sports” is a language they understand. This is an inspiring class read aloud. For top readers, this would make an excellent script for a DIY audio book or PowerPoint presentation as a literacy activity. It could be used as part of a biography or history unit, even an example of sports stories in a genre unit. The illustrations are muted and create a sense of a by-gone era by award winning illustrator Floyd Cooper.

There are activities on the publisher’s website with a log-in: https://www.lernerbooks.com/products/t/11693/9780761366195/something-to-prove. The author has baseball related activities on his website: http://www.robertskead.com/funstuff.php.

  • Something to ProveTITLE: Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio
  • AUTHOR: Robert Skead
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Floyd Cooper
  • PUBLISHER: Carolrhoda, 2013
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 32 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-7613-6619-5
  • GENRE: Sports
  • LEXILE: 890

Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy

Written by Bill Wise

Illustrated by Adam Gustavson

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I am a pushover for books about people who overcome challenges to achieve greatness. I also really love baseball. So I was intrigued to read Silent Star, which tells the story of a deaf major league baseball player named William “Dummy” Hoy. I found the book to be a fascinating glimpse at a little-known baseball player whose achievements will still impress today. » Read more