Tag Archives: genre: sports & outdoors

Drop the Puck: It’s Hockey Season Review

drop_the_puck_its_hockey_seasonDrop the Puck: It’s Hockey Season (The Official Adventures 1) by Jayne J. Jones Beehler, illustrated by Katrina G. Dohm

Beaver’s Pond Press, 2015. 978-1592988815

Synopsis: Brothers Blaine and Cullen join refs Rylee and Rosee in game-day adventures that will have you cheering for more stories, victories, and defeats. Sharpen your skates and grab your stick–it’s time to play hockey! – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I have friends with kids who enjoy shorter chapter books that are easy to follow.

Why I finished it: This is not an in-depth sports book by any means (Matt Christopher is a little more detailed), but it is tailored well to an audience of reluctant readers looking for a beginning chapter book. It’s light-hearted and fun without getting into a lot of the nitty gritty because that’s not really what the book is going for. The message the reader is gleaning from the book is one of having a positive attitude and displaying good sportsmanship. The authors are also shining a light on kids with disabilities that can still have an active part in team sports, whether or not they are actually on the field/ice/etc. Some of the dialogue can seem a little cheesy, but it’s good for an introduction into a sport. I liked both Cullen and Blaine, but I was disappointed not to see more of the referees only because I was under the impression that the series was focused on them. The illustrations are imaginative and add a lot to the story, giving the reader a better picture of the characters and the game. I appreciated that it was not a very long book, and I would recommend it for transitioning readers.

Other related materials: Petey by Ben Mikaelsen; Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick; Max the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick; Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko; Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko; Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko; Rules by Cynthia Lord; Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine; So B. It by Sarah Weeks; Knees: The Mixed-Up World of a Boy with Dyslexia by Vanita Oelschlager, illustrated by Joe Rossi; El Deafo by Cece Bell; Paperboy by Vince Vawter; Tangerine by Edward Bloor


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Slam! Review

slamSlam! by Walter Dean Meyers

Scholastic, 2008. 978-0545055741.

Winner of the 1997 Coretta Scott King Book Award

Synopsis: Greg ‘Slam’ Harris knows how to hoop. He’s a powerhouse ball player that has his eye set on the NBA. But his teachers can’t seem to dig it, always getting on his case about his grades, about how he could do better. Then he starts to see the other side, starts to see what it looks like when you can’t make it, when you have to face not being on top. Turns out, life is a game and he doesn’t have the ball.

Why I picked it up: Meyers was a popular author among many of my library school peers and his work came to me highly recommended.

Why I finished it: I had a really hard time getting into this book, not because of the subject matter, but because it was written in dialect, mirroring the way we speak. It gives the reader a sense of the narrator and how he views the world around him, but it makes for somewhat annoying reading material. I found myself gleaning the story mostly from context, which also made it difficult to get into the book. The sports writing was enjoyable: I’m a huge hoops fan – mostly college ball – and it was intriguing to me to have the game set up from the players perspective and to have insight on the lingo they use for the plays and the ball. I like first person narratives because they tend to be more ‘reliable’ and we have a better feel for the characters and their emotions. I can totally understand Slam’s frustrations at being bothered about his grades and his performance off the court. I’ve been haggled about needing an attitude adjustment, about needing to ‘do the right thing’. And yeah, some of that comes from being a teen and being in situations where you don’t think anyone understands you. But as a reader, we see that Slam has potential; we want him to wake up and realize that there’s a little more going on than just the stuff happening to him. Whether or not a wake-up call will stick is hard to say, but if it comes from the right place, it can make all the difference. If you like books that read like you talk, then I’d recommend it. If you’re like me and you know you’re going to be slogging through it, perhaps one of Meyers other works will be a better choice.

Other related materials: Hoops by Walter Dean Meyers; Game by Walter Dean Meyers; Monster by Walter Dean Meyers; Kick by Walter Dean Meyers and Ross Workman; Scorpions by Walter Dean Meyers; Somewhere in the Darkness by Walter Dean Meyers; The Jericho Trilogy by Sharon M. Draper; We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Lead to Success by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, and Sharon M. Draper; True Legend by Mike Lupica; The Crossover by Kwame Alexander; Ball Don’ Lie by Matt de la Peña; Boy21 by Matthew Quick; Night Hoops by Carl Deuker; Miracle’s Boys by Jacqueline Woodson

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River of Words: Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things Review

river_of_wordsRiver of Words: Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things edited by Pamela Michael

Milkweed Editions, 2008. 978-1571316851

Synopsis: The California-based River of Words (ROW) has gained fame as an important nonprofit that trains teachers, park naturalists, grassroots groups, and others to incorporate observation-based nature exploration and the arts into young people’s lives. One of the group’s most important annual projects is to take the youth pulse from the United States and 22 other countries, by asking for writing on water and nature. This anthology collects the best of that writing, with accompanying artwork. Divided into nine geographical areas (California, Pacific Northwest, Inland West, Midwest, Southwest, Northwest, Mid Atlantic, South, and International), the book presents writers from ages six to 18. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: The anthology reminded me of the literary anthologies that my college would put out every year and I love celebrating the work of young writers.

Why I finished it: This collection is an amazing showcase of the potential of young writers and artists. The selected works describe life in many different corners of the United States and the rest of the world and the true beauty that comes from nature, should we be still long enough to appreciate it. Poetry is so rich and so deep because the poet is describing for the reader a scene or a moment in time with only a few choice words, and these collected poems are no different. Some are sparse and minimalist in their descriptions, others are crafted with a deeper meaning embedded between stanzas. And the topics are just as diverse as the forms. True, they all deal with nature in some way, shape or form, but it is how the poet or artist sees nature that creates a whole new way of looking at creeks and streams, skipping rocks and fishing, taking a dip or dipping in clothing to wash. The images created by the poems are just as powerful as the pictures that were selected to become part of the collection: There are simple crayon and colored pencil drawings as well as more complicated chalk, watercolor, and folk art. What spoke to me the most about this collection is that it was produced by aspiring poets and artists, who were given the chance to contribute to something much bigger than themselves and invite the reader to explore the nature around them where they live. For more information, check out the website here.

Other related materials: River of Words: Images and Poetry in Praise of Water edited by Pamela Michael; Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets selected by Naomi Shihab Nye, illustrated by Ashley Bryan; The Tree is Older Than You Are: A Bilingual Gathering of Poems & Stories from Mexico with Paintings by Mexican Artists selected by Naomi Shihab Nye; This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World edited by Naomi Shihab Nye; Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Eric Beddows; I am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Ken Nutt; Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Beppe Giacoppe; Pumpkin Butterfly: Poems from the Other Side of Nature by Heidi Mordhorst, illustrated by Jenny Reynish

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Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys Review

guykuGuyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2010. 978-0547240039

Synopsis: In this collection of Haiku, the reader is invited to explore the world of the outdoors through the eyes of young boys as they watch the seasons change.

Why I picked it up: It popped up in my Amazon recommendations while I was browsing.

Why I finished it: Raczka explores the notion of the world as a boy’s playground, and indeed the out of doors is a wonder-filled world for children, especially boys. From flying a kite to using rocks to make a dam in a stream to looking up at pine trees to climb to throwing snowballs at a tree trunk, there is so much to do and explore outside. As the seasons change, Raczka and Reynolds show us how the playscape transforms from warm breezes to sunny days to leaves that change colors to a winter wonderland. Haiku is really a perfect form for these poems because they give us a brief snapshot of the activities in which we engage over the course of a year and the pleasure we have in enjoying the world outside. Reynolds’ art is just as simple and fun as the poems, using minimal lines and changing colors as we ‘travel’ from spring to winter. It’s a simple little book that inspires and ignites our own creativity and encourages us to keep doing what we love and share our passions with others.

Other related materials: Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlow, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin; Dogku by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Tim Bowers; The Year Comes Round: Haiku Through the Seasons by Sid Farrar, illustrated by Ilse Plume; I Haiku You by Betsy E. Snyder; The Cuckoo’s Haiku: and Other Birding Poems by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows; A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by LeUyen Pham; Messing Around on the Monkey Bars and Other School Poems for Two Voices by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Jessie Hartland; Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Nancy Doniger; Red Sings From Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski; Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley

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Reader Recommendation: Lucy Dakota: Adventures of a Modern Explorer Review

Lucy Dakota: Rocky Mountain Beginnings (Adventures of a Modern Explorer, Book 1) by C.S. Shride

My Piece of the Puzzle, 2011. 978-0983386315

Synopsis: Lucy is just like everyone else, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Between having to wear headgear, being overweight, and getting teased by the mean girls, middle school is a joke! During the summer Lucy rides her bike to the pool and realizes just how much healthier she can be if she just puts her mind to it. When she gets to high school, Lucy joins an adventure scouting club and starts to go hiking and skiing in her home state of Colorado, which proves to be the perfect way to learn more about herself and gain more confidence in who she is.

Why I picked it up: A reader recommended I check it out. 🙂

Why I finished it: Reading about Lucy reminds me a lot about how I felt about myself in middle school and high school. I didn’t have to wear headgear, but I did get teased and I had a hard time finding the right group of friends to spend my time with. The book speaks a lot to persona empowerment and finding something that you really love to do, something you are passionate about, and lets you get out and explore what the world has to offer. At first, I found the pacing of the book a little disorienting, since Lucy seems to sprint through the end of middle school to the end of high school in the span of about 100 pages, but then slows down after that to chronicle her challenges and adventures in Outdoor School. I like that Shride has given the reader a snapshot of just how much goes into hiking, backpacking, and camping, set in the backdrop of Colorado. The descriptions of the landscape make me want to go out and do some whitewater rafting (which I can do where I live now, but not until the summer!) or some camping…really, it just makes me want to go camping really bad. Lucy is definitely an inspiration and I am looking forward to reading more about her adventures as the series unfolds.

Other related materials: Lucy Dakota: Journey to Nepal (Adventures of a Modern Explorer, Book 2) by C.S. Shride; 101 Essential Tips: Hiking by Hugh McManners; Backpacker’s Start-Up: A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking and Backpacking by Doug Werner; Volunteering Smarts: How to Find Opportunities, Create a Positive Experience, and More by Sandy Donovan; Food & You by Dr. Lynda Madison;  The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Middle School by Robin Epstein & Ben H. Winters; Middle School Confidential: Be Confident in Who You Are by Annie Fox, M.Ed.; A Smart Girl’s Guide to Starting Middle School by Julie Williams Montalbano, Sara Hunt, and Chris David; A Smart Girl’s Guide to Boys by Nancy Holyoke & Bonnie Timmons

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