Thursday, January 19, 2023

Today's read... Off the Bench by Fred Bowen

I'm always excited to get my hands on middle grade books about sports, not because I'm a huge sport fan (nope, that would not be one of my stronger attributes), but rather, I know of more than a few kids who enjoy getting their hands on these. And there never seem to be enough of them in the fiction world. Add that books with male characters are another thing I've been keeping my eyes open for, and this one was definitely going on my to-take-a-peek-at-list. 

This is not the first book by this author, but rather he has entire slew of books rotating around various sports. This is, however, the first book I've read from him...I believe, anyway. Oh, and this one hits the shelves around mid-March.

by Fred Bowen
Peachtree Publishers
Middle Grade Sport Fiction
144 pages
ages 8 to 12

MARCH 14th!!!

Chris wants to be a star scorer like his brother--so why does his coach keep him waiting on the bench?

Chris comes from a sports-loving family. His brother is the star scorer on the high school team, and is being recruited by Division 3 colleges. Chris longs to earn the same adulation, and he's a good scorer for his junior high team. But why won't his coach start him? He's better on defense than his rival, Carlos, and nearly as good a shooter.

Soon Chris becomes obsessed with earning a place in his team's starting lineup. He does everything he can think of--including being an invaluable player every time he comes in. But nothing seems to get Coach's attention. Even after he learns the history of the valuable "6th man," Chris can't seem to let it go. How will he ever be a big scoring star?

For every kid who hates to read but loves basketball, comes a suspenseful novel with plenty of play-by-play sports action.

GOODREADS   /   B&N    /    AMAZON


Basketball on and off the court packs every page, making this a true read for young, basketball fans.

Chris's older brother is the star of the high school basketball team, something Chris is proud and a bit jealous about, especially since his junior high's team is just starting their own season. Chris is determined to show the new coach that he should be one of the starting five, which isn't easy considering the good players on his team. But he knows he can't be ignored. He might not be as good as his older brother, but he's not bad. When the coach uses him as the first sub instead placing him under the starters, Chris is disappointed but determined to prove his worth...if he can.

I was happy to see that this read does center around basketball, meaning that it isn't about school drama, family issues, or any other side themes. Chris lives and breathes basketball. His friends live and breathe basketball. Even his family lives and breathes basketball. While this did almost seem suffocating, it comes across realistic as there are many sport families, who really love the sport that much...every single member. And the practices, games, and such of all siblings makes every aspect of life seem to rotate around that one theme. So, it was refreshing to see things from this point of view.

With all the concentration on basketball, this book is a definite read for basketball fans. The practice and game situations will come across very familiar, and even the few plays illustrated in the pages will have readers nodding their heads in recognition. The home scenes with concern about schedules, talk of the sport, and shooting hoops with family and friends not only sticks to topic but shows a supportive, understanding, and encouraging environment. This family might be about sports, but they don't take that in a competitive way, and rather, support one another in many aspects...even when there is the occasional jealous moment or two.

Then, there's an inspiring message for those, who play basketball. The words of the coach, older brother, teammates, friends, and family offer wise insights, which will have readers, who also play sports, thinking about their own positions and attitudes. These aren't preachy and stay in a reality-based position, so that players can really use them in their own practices and games.

I do see sport orientated readers enjoy this one quite a bit.

1 comment:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I agree with you that there aren't enough books that focus on sports for middle graders. Boys might get into reading more if there were more books like this one. Glad you enjoyed it so much.