Review Detail

Kids Fiction 474
Football and running!
(Updated: November 18, 2019)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Tim has recently moved to town and is starting ninth grade at Hilton Prep. During gym class one day, his running ability catches the eye of the gym teacher, who tells the football coach about it. Before long, Tim is on the football team. His father is okay with it, but Tim is a little wary, knowing that his mother, who passed away three years ago, didn't like seeing what football injuries did to her patients. Tim figures that he is fast enough to avoid being tackled too heavily, and he enjoys the camaraderie of the football players, who invite him to eat lunch with them. Tim has made some other friends who are on the track team, so he is feeling better about his new school. When a teammate goes down on the field after a tackle, Tim starts to shy away from contact, blowing a play that costs his team the game. Still, he persists, even after he is tackled several times himself. After he is injured, however, he decides that he prefers running and tells his father and his teammates that he won't be back the next season. A note at the end of the book gives some history on football players who were also fast runners.
Good Points
Having main characters of middle grade fiction books be high school students is brilliant, and I wish there were more of these. Bowen's books are always full of plays, strategies, and other football details that I absolutely don't understand, which makes them perfect for my sports obsessed boys. I really liked how Tim tried football, decided it just wasn't for him, and was allowed to chose another path without a lot of preaching one way or the other. There is so much conversation about concussion right now, so Tim's concerns about getting injured are very valid.

The historical notes are always interesting as well.

Fans of Matt Christopher, Rich Wallace, Mike Lupica and Tim Green will love these quick titles. Bowen manages to have great plots, well developed characters, and lots of sports information, all in under 150 pages. I love the variety of sports he covers, and using both football and running in one book makes me think of one of my favorite books, Leon McClinton's 1974 Cross-Country Runner.
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