Review Detail

Great Overview of Football History
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)  
 
4.0
Learning Value 
 
5.0
Fred Bowen's fictional sports books are usually tied to an event in sports history, so it makes perfect sense that he would eventually turn his hand to an anecdotal history of football. Starting with the early days of the sport, and dividing it into four "quarters", Bowen explores and explains the development of this beloved but controversial American pastime by using short but illustrative stories. From the beginning of the NFL in a car dealership in Canton to the diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in player Mike Webster, Bowen deftly choses specific instances that mirror the evolution of the sport as a whole. This manages to cover a wide array of topics both on the field and off. We learn about the development of gear, strategies, plays, and positions but also how football was shaped by the culture of its times. There are well known stories, such as the 1967 Ice Bowl, but also lesser known ones that could use whole books of their own, such as early African American players Fritz Pollard and Bobby Marshall who played in 1916!
Good Points
Each story is brief but powerful; I don't know if high school speech teams have a Prose and Poetry division any more, but there were a couple of stories that made me want to work them into a speech for competition, since they made me tear up a little bit! The accompanying illustrations will appeal to young readers, since Ransome's colorful style has a sense of urgency and movement to it.

I was impressed by the variety of stories, and it's odd to think that football has been played for over 100 years. Bowen reaches into the past to tell stories that help understand why this sport has appealed to both players and spectators, and has worked its way into popular culture: I had no idea what kind of player Deacon Jones was, but I remembered his name because he appeared as himself on an episode of The Brady Bunch.

While there are huge numbers of nonfiction football books about football teams and players, they are often formulaic and a bit lacking in literary quality and emotion. Readers who have enjoyed more specific football history books like Sheinkin's Undefeated : Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team, or McClafferty's Fourth Down and Inches, or other overviews like Shenolikar's Football Then to Wow! will find that Gridiron delivers exciting and evocative stories that entertain but also beg to be investigated more thoroughly. This is a must purchase for elementary and middle school libraries, especially where Bowen's fictional titles circulate well.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Watch Over Me
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Mila is used to being alone. ...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Her job is to keep their secrets safe. ...
City of the Plague God
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD,...
The Shadow War
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Inglourious Basterds meets Stranger Things in this dark and thrilling...
The Valley and the Flood
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Rose Colter is almost home, but she can't go back...
Don't Tell A Soul
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Stay up all night with this modern day Rebecca! Perfect...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
58 Farm End: a twisted romantic crime thriller series (Book...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Beatrice Walker thought she lived in a normal world—that is...
Crying is Like the Rain: A Story of Mindfulness and Feelings
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A gentle metaphor for understanding and processing anxiety and sadness....
The Brass Queen
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
She knows a liar when she sees one. ...
The Final Chance
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Friends no matter what. At least that's what Beth Ann...
Wylder and the Almost Rockstar
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
How much trouble does it take to forget the boy...

Latest Member Reviews

Hello, My Name Is Tiger
 
5.0
"Hello, My Name Is Tiger is a cute, inspirational children's book that helps to show kids how to be social..."