Saturday, July 31, 2010

Kid Konnection: Fred Bowen Sports Story Series

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. Today, I'm going to share with you some terrific middle grade books from the Fred Bowen Sports Story series.

Summary: Sam loves football. There's nothing better than the rush he gets when his team, the Cowboys, are working together -- moving closer and closer to the end zone.

In a key game, the Cowboys beat their arch rivals to remain undefeated, thanks to a major play by Sam. But, the celebration ends when he and his teammates make an unwelcome discovery.

Is the Cowboys' perfect season in jeopardy? -- Peachtree

As a big football fan, TOUCHDOWN TROUBLE certainly appealed to me. I enjoyed the story about a team that realizes that they won a game on a bad call. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the author conveyed the importance of doing the "right" thing both on the field as well as off. In addition, I think young kids will relate to Sam and his conflict.

I especially appreciated how Mr. Bowen used a real-life sports story in TOUCHDOWN TROUBLE -- he actually references true-life events in all of the books. In this one, he tells the story of the Cornell/Dartmouth game that took place in 1940. Cornell kept their undefeated season alive when they won the game on a fourth down play that was actually a fifth down play. When the Cornell team realized their error, they relinquished the game to Dartmouth.

Great book for football fans and parents!

Summary: Brett Carter is a hotshot on his basketball team, the Wildcats -- or at least he was. After missing an easy layup shot at the buzzer in an important game, he feels like a total loser.

But things get worse. During his best friend's birthday party at a rock climbing center, Brett freezes on the wall. Then he blows an easy question in the American history bee at school. He is losing his confidence fast, both on and off the court -- and the championship game is coming up.

Can Brett overcome his fears and play like a "winner" again? -- Peachtree

I especially liked the message in HARDCOURT COMEBACK! Brett is a star basketball player who chokes on an end-of-the game lay-up -- the easiest shot in basketball. He begins to doubt himself, and when he freezes on a rock climbing wall and during the history bee, his confidence really goes into the tank.

I think HARDCOURT COMEBACK was probably my favorite because I loved the lesson. I think all kids, regardless of their talent, skill or sport, lose their confidence at some time. This book showed that it's okay to get down on yourself, but you can't give up -- things will always get better.

The author gives two examples of college basketball players who choked in major games -- Chris Webber (Michigan) and Fred Brown (Georgetown). Through these examples, he showed that both players were able to move on from their mistakes and ended up having great careers!

A little aside: I clearly remember both of these championship games so maybe I appreciated that the stories resonated with me!

Summary: Jack throws the fastest pitches in the league, but lately his blazing fastballs haven't been enough to stay ahead of the batters. His coach wants him to slow down and learn new pitches to throw strikes.

A former college player has offered to help, but Jack's eyes are still on the radar gun.

Can Jack resist bringing the heat? -- Peachtree

THROWING HEAT was another fun read and a book that today's kids can definitely learn from! Jack is an extremely fast pitcher but he doesn't always win games because he doesn't have control of the ball. When a young coach tries to work with him, Jack thinks he knows it all and doesn't need any help. With a lot of work and support, Jack eventually realizes that he needs to have more than just a super-fast pitch to be a good pitcher.

I really liked the message in this book because I think many kids can benefit from a little coaching. All too often, I see kids who think they know more than their coaches, teachers, and parents; and they hesitate to listen to people in authority positions. When Jack's coach teaches him about some other famous (and not-so-famous) baseball players, Jack realizes the error of his ways and works hard to remedy the situation.

Cute book with a great message!

Summary: Tyler is angry when his best friend Zack, their team's hotshot midfielder, leaves to play for the Panthers, an lite travel team. He's sure the Cougars' season will tank -- before it even begins.

The Cougars lose their season opener -- and their next game, too. Tyler blames Zack, but it's clear his team needs a new attitude -- and a lot more practice.

Can Tyler help make a difference before it's too late? -- Peachtree

was another fun book, and this one actually warmed my heart because it had such a great lesson about loyalty and teamwork. When Tyler finds himself on a team with many new (and young) players, he discovers that there is more to a great team than winning!

I really liked Tyler and his sense of loyalty. He was very real to me in that he got depressed when his team broke up and was no longer as strong; however, he just began practicing more and more to try to make up for the lost players. His sense of devotion to his team, as well as his optimism, were such admirable traits in a young kid.

The real-story in this book was about the 1950 U.S. World Cup Soccer Team -- the team that was a huge underdog about England. No one expected them to even keep the game close; however, they shocked the world when they won!

Great story about underdogs and I especially enjoyed it because it mentioned a Penn Stater! Fantastic book with an equally fantastic real-life story tie-in!

While I definitely enjoyed the four books that I read, I'm not so sure my girly-girl daughter would like them. I have always been a huge sports fan, so the sports lingo/terms didn't bother me, but I can see where she'd have a slight problem following some of the game descriptions. I do think that young boys who enjoy sports are going to absolutely love these books!

I am also extremely excited that these books might even appeal to reluctant readers because they are so fun to read (and not all that long.) And as a mother, I couldn't be more thrilled that all of the books are educational and have valuable teachings about sportsmanship and important life lessons.

There is a website devoted the the Fred Bowen Sports Story Series where you can take a look at all of the book available in the series. In addition, there are lots of fun sports facts you can chck out too. Thanks to the publisher for providing copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Beth F said...

I don't read a lot of sports books but my nephews are different story.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

Like you, I don't think my girly-girl would read these, but they will appeal to my son when he is slightly older I'm sure. The fact that they are educational is a bonus.

bermudaonion said...

Vance and my nephew would have loved these. They were both into Matt Christopher books because of the sports theme.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Our librarian has one or two of these in the school library, and have met with enthusiastic feedback. I will have to remember to pull these out when I get see a sulking 5th grade boy claim that everything is "boring".

Melissa said...

I'm definitely going to look for these for my son.

Today's my first time participating in Kid Konnection. Been meaning to for awhile now, but Saturdays always seemed to slip away from me before I could add my links.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

These look like they have good messages, but I doubt I personally would be interested! :--)

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I think my younger (ahem, more active) son will really enjoy these in years to come. If Kindergarten works its magic and he'll sit for a book in installments, we could try one as a read-aloud next spring ...