November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Game On: Sports | Series Nonfiction

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SMS1504-SportsThese latest sports series go beyond simple primers of different games and activities, providing, instead, noteworthy ways that teachers and librarians can simultaneously stoke young readers’ athletic passions while connecting their interests to other fields of study. Younger readers looking to try different activities will want a thorough grounding in basic rules and objectives, which will, in turn, lead to discovering how sports fit into a healthy lifestyle. Fans of particular sports will also appreciate more information on significant events and milestones, making for a great opportunity to tie in history, while older readers will be able to connect to cross-cultural issues, such as understanding how Jackie Robinson’s breaking baseball’s color barrier fits into the larger civil rights struggle.

Preschool to Grade 4

Blaine, Victor. My Bike. ISBN 9781499402506.

––––. My RipStik. ISBN 9781499402513.

––––. My Scooter. ISBN 9781499402537.

––––. My Skateboard. ISBN 9781499402520.

––––. My Skates. ISBN 9781499402544.

––––. My Sled. ISBN 9781499402490.

ea vol: 24p. (Watch Me Go!). glossary. index. photos. websites. PowerKids. 2015. lib. ed. $23.60.

PreS-Gr 1 –Featuring engaging color photos that complement the simple texts, these slim volumes will easily hook kids. Each page contains no more than two or three sentences and faces a photo page. The font is large, the vocabulary accessible, and there’s plenty of white space, making these offerings ideal for novice readers. The authors mix in some interesting facts; for instance, My Sled mentions the use of dogsleds and horse-drawn sleighs. Each book ends with a useful “Words to Know” picture glossary, which includes definitions of terms such as elbow pad, helmet, and laces (in My Skates). Children and a few adults are shown enjoying each activity, and there’s a reminder about the importance of safety. VERDICT Solid choices for emergent readers.

Borth, Teddy. Baseball: Great Moments, Records, and Facts. ISBN 9781629706870; ISBN 9781629707457. LC 2014943652.

––––. Basketball: Great Moments, Records, and Facts. ISBN 9781629706887; ISBN 9781629707464. LC 2014943709.

––––. Football: Great Moments, Records, and Facts. ISBN 9781629706894; ISBN 9781629707471. LC 2014943654.

––––. Gymnastics: Great Moments, Records, and Facts. ISBN 9781629706900; ISBN 9781629707488. LC 2014943655.

––––. Hockey: Great Moments, Records, and Facts. ISBN 9781629706917; ISBN 9781629707495. LC 2014943663.

––––. Soccer: Great Moments, Records, and Facts. ISBN 9781629706924; ISBN 9781629707501. LC 2014943664.

ea vol: 24p. (Great Sports). glossary. index. photos. ABDO. 2015. lib. ed. $28.50. ebk. $28.50.

K-Gr 2 –These short books offer lively images of sports action and readable factoids aimed at beginning readers. Each one presents an overview of the sport through 20 pages of simplified text. The facts are noteworthy, if overly simplified (“A gym teacher came up with basketball in 1891. It was raining. He wanted to keep his students busy.”). Baseball’s history is likewise summed up in three sentences, though the book goes on to mention great players, including Joe DiMaggio and Cal Ripken Jr. Both current and former players earn mentions: Gabby Douglas in gymnastics and soccer’s Lionel Messi. Despite the enduring topics, these books fail to distinguish themselves and will likely be dated in just a few years. VERDICT Marginal choices for novice readers.

Doeden, Matt. All About Baseball. ISBN 9781491419939.

––––. All About Basketball. ISBN 9781491419946.

––––. All About Football. ISBN 9781491419953.

––––. All About Hockey. ISBN 9781491419960.

ea vol: 32p. (All About Sports). further reading. glossary. photos. websites. Capstone. 2015. lib. ed. $26.65.

Gr 2-4 –Keeping the needs of beginning readers in mind, the authors of these books pair simple sentences with well-labeled photos, diagrams, and graphic aids. Sidebars and text boxes introduce the history, rules, equipment, and objectives of each sport. Football is defined as “a clash between offense and defense”; ensuing pages illustrate both of these terms. In Basketball, crisp prose evokes courtside drama (“The clock ticks down. A guard darts toward the hoop. Defenders swarm all around. The guard fires a pass. One second remains. The shot goes up. Swish! It’s good!”). All offer clear diagrams of playing venues, and Hockey also features close-up photos of pucks and helmets. Both girls and boys are depicted (including Little League sensation Mo’Ne Davis), and Basketball gives equal space to the WNBA and its stars, along with the NBA. VERDICT This well-crafted series is an excellent choice for the youngest sports-minded pre- and emergent readers.

Morey, Allan. Baseball. ISBN 9781620311769.

––––. Basketball. ISBN 9781620311776.

––––. Football. ISBN 9781620311783.

––––. Gymnastics. ISBN 9781620311790.

––––. Hockey. ISBN 9781620311806.

––––. Soccer. ISBN 9781620311813.

––––. Swimming. ISBN 9781620311820.

––––. Tennis. ISBN 9781620311837.

ea vol: 24p. (I Love Sports). ebook available. glossary. index. photos. websites. Jump! 2015. lib. ed. $25.65.

PreS-Gr 2 –These titles offer emergent readers brief overviews of different sports and encourage them to participate (“Do you want to try? Dive in. Swimming is fun!”). Colorful photos depict boys and girls enjoying themselves at the pool, ice rink, and ball parks; Football opens with a girl suited up in shoulder pads, ready to play. The books make use of simple sentences, supplemented by photographs and diagrams, while picture glossaries and indexes are used effectively. For example, the colorful diagram in Basketball delineates the three-point line, free-throw line, and other key parts of the court. Each helpful picture glossary defines six words or phrases, such as cleats, dribble, and goalie. VERDICT These concise introductions effectively convey the appeal of each sport.

Grades 5 & Up

Buckley, James, Jr. STEM in Sports: Math. ISBN 9781422232323; ISBN 9781422286760.

––––. STEM in Sports: Technology. ISBN 9781422232347; ISBN 9781422286784.

Gigliotti, Jim. STEM in Sports: Science. ISBN 9781422232330; ISBN 9781422286777.

Newcomb, Tim. STEM in Sports: Engineering. ISBN 9781422232316; ISBN 9781422286753.

ea vol: 64p. (STEM in Sports). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Mason Crest. 2015. lib. ed. $23.95. ebk. $29.95.

Gr 6 Up –These fascinating titles examine innovations in scientific fields that “are giving…athletes a wide array of tools to improve performance and success.” The books cover engineering advances such as lightweight shirts and safer equipment as well as high-tech sports stadiums and scientific breakthroughs that include preventing and rehabilitating player injuries, designing prosthetics, and creating new guidelines for training and nutrition. Most innovations are cast in a favorable light, such as Math’s description of Sabermetrics, the stats-based analysis pioneered by Bill James that’s now used in many sports. However, the authors also highlight concerns: commercial interests drive many new developments and may tip the scale in favor of wealthy athletes or teams. Readers are encouraged to think through these issues through text-dependent questions and suggestions for research projects. Sidebars and color photos are an additional plus. VERDICT Great resources for report writers and fans alike.

Chaline, Eric. Martial Arts For Athletic Conditioning: Winning Ways. ISBN 9781422232415; ISBN 9781422286708.

––––. Martial Arts For Women: Winning Ways. ISBN 9781422232439; ISBN 9781422286722.

––––. Ninjutsu: Winning Ways. ISBN 9781422232446; ISBN 9781422286739.

Chesterman, Barnaby. Judo: Winning Ways. ISBN 9781422232361; ISBN 9781422286654.

––––. Taekwondo: Winning Ways. ISBN 9781422232453; ISBN 9781422286746.

Johnson, Nathan. Jujutsu: Winning Ways. ISBN 9781422232378; ISBN 9781422286661.

––––. Karate: Winning Ways. ISBN 9781422232385; ISBN 9781422286678.

––––. Kickboxing and MMA: Winning Ways. ISBN 9781422232392; ISBN 9781422286685.

––––. Kung Fu: Winning Ways. ISBN 9781422232408; ISBN 9781422286692.

––––. Martial Arts For Children: Winning Ways. ISBN 9781422232422; ISBN 9781422286715.

ea vol: 96p. (Mastering Martial Arts). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Mason Crest. 2015. lib. ed. $24.95. ebk. $30.95.

Gr 8 Up –Marred by dense prose and disorganization, these books fail to live up to the promise of their action-filled covers. Photos, illustrations, and sidebars enliven the texts, though the photos are often grainy and poorly matched to the narratives. The writing is choppy and awkward, and most images depict adults, with the exception of Martial Arts for Children. However, like the other volumes in this series, this title seems to be aimed at an adult audience, offering a rambling overview of martial arts philosophy and a sampling of techniques, safe free-fighting, and self-defense. VERDICT All but the most zealous fans will find this set disappointing.

Chiu, David & Natalie Regis . An Insider’s Guide to Wrestling. ISBN 9781477780893.

Green, Naima & Hope Merlin . An Insider’s Guide to Surfing. ISBN 9781477780817.

Hayhurst, Chris & Cameron Jones . An Insider’s Guide to Lacrosse. ISBN 9781477780770.

McIntyre, Abigael & Helen Connolly . An Insider’s Guide to Field Hockey. ISBN 9781477780732.

Roza, Greg & Bob Power. An Insider’s Guide to Paintball. ISBN 9781477780930.

Zahensky, Kenneth & Tracie Egan. An Insider’s Guide to Water Polo. ISBN 9781477780855.

ea vol: 48p. (Sports Tips, Techniques, and Strategies). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. websites. Rosen Central. 2015. lib. ed. $30.25.

Gr 5-8 –Though these overviews of various sports are on the dry side, they’re also straightforward and thorough. Well organized and featuring nicely labeled diagrams and photographs, the books begin with description of a game or match and go on to describe the sport’s development, rules and objectives, and necessary equipment and venues. They conclude with a discussion of play and player positions. There are plenty of interesting facts, such as that wrestling is one of the world’s oldest sports, depicted in ancient Egyptian cave paintings and Mesopotamian slab tablets. Paintball discusses variations of the game, such as Capture the Flag, accompanied by photos and a colorful diagram. These volumes also do a laudable job of depicting female athletes. VERDICT Many libraries will welcome this series for its coverage of sports that don’t receive much attention, such as field hockey, lacrosse, and water polo.

Daniel, P.K. Magic vs. Bird in the NCAA Final. ISBN 9781624035968; ISBN 9781629692227. LC 2014944208.

Donnelly, Patrick. Joe Namath’s Super Bowl Guarantee. ISBN 9781624035951; ISBN 9781629692210. LC 2014944224.

Smolka, Bo. Jackie Robinson Breaks the Color Barrier. ISBN 9781624035944; ISBN 9781629692203. LC 2014944196.

Trusdell, Brian. The Miracle on Ice. ISBN 9781624035975; ISBN 9781629692234. LC 2014944197.

––––. US Women Win the World Cup. ISBN 9781624035999; ISBN 9781629692258. LC 2014944248.

Williams, Doug. Tiger Woods Makes Masters History. ISBN 9781624035982; ISBN 9781629692241. LC 2014944198.

ea vol: 48p. (Greatest Events in Sports History). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO. 2015. lib. ed. $32.79. ebk. $32.79.

Gr 4-7 –These appealing books connect milestone sporting events to history and social science. Through accessible prose, the authors discuss the circumstances and main players involved with each of these landmark moments. Tiger Woods also introduces Charlie Sifford, the first African American to play on the PGA tour, and Lee Elder, the first African American to play at the Masters in 1975. Sidebars add excerpts from primary sources, and each volume includes an enlightening time line. With US Women Win the World Cup, readers not only get information about standout players Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain—they’ll also learn that the successful marketing campaign for the 1999 Women’s World Cup drew a television audience of 17.9 million viewers. Some of these topics, such as Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier, have already been well covered. Nonetheless, these up-to-date and readable titles are strong choices for fans and report writers alike. VERDICT Wonderful additions to sports collections.

Eisen, Isabel. Pilates. ISBN 9781477781647.

Liebman, Hollis. Core Fitness. ISBN 9781477781685.

Oren, Goldie. Yoga. ISBN 9781477781623.

Wollering, Loretta. Tai Chi. ISBN 9781477781661.

ea vol: 192p. (Fitness for the Mind and Body). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Rosen Young Adult. 2015. lib. ed. $38.25.

Gr 9 Up –These excellent guides are primarily directed at adults, though interested teens will find them helpful. All four volumes make use of photos, diagrams, sidebars, and text boxes to offer well-written, step-by-step instructions to a variety of exercises and poses. Core Fitness contains 33 “core stabilizers,” 30 “core strengtheners,” three “cool downs,” and 10 workouts, including an “Over-Fifty Workout” and a “Beach-Bod Bikini Workout.” A well-toned adult models each exercise, and photos are accompanied by anatomical illustrations showing key muscles used. There are also sections on getting started and nutritional advice. Tai Chi has a longer introduction, which outlines the history and philosophy of this discipline. Yoga observes that along with a yoga mat, props such as blocks and straps can help beginners and more experienced students “improve their alignment and balance.” Readers will also appreciate an icon index for cross-referencing. VERDICT Well-executed guides that will intrigue teens with an interest in fitness.

Flynn, Brendan. Andrew McCutchen: National League MVP. ISBN 9781631437342.

––––. Kevin Durant: NBA MVP. ISBN 9781631437410.

––––. Miguel Cabrera: MVP and Triple Crown Winner. ISBN 9781631437366.

––––. Seattle Seahawks: Super Bowl Champions. ISBN 9781631437397.

Hammer, Maxwell. Boston Red Sox: World Series Champions. ISBN 9781631437359.

––––. LeBron James: NBA MVP and Champion. ISBN 9781631437373.

––––. Peyton Manning: NFL MVP and Champion. ISBN 9781631437380.

––––. Sidney Crosby: NHL MVP and Champion. ISBN 9781631437403.

ea vol: 24p. (Today’s MVPs and Champions). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. The Child’s World. 2015. lib. ed. $27.07.

Gr 3-6 –Focusing on current championship teams and athletes, these slim volumes limn the high points of their histories and careers. Colorful photos pair with short paragraphs of text and sidebars containing well-chosen factoids (for instance, Kevin Durant earned entry into the NBA’s exclusive “50-40-90 club,” meaning that in one season he hit “50 percent of his field goals, 40 percent of his three-pointers, and 90 percent of his free throws”). Readers will enjoy seeing high school photos of Durant, LeBron James, Miguel Cabrera, Peyton Manning, and Sydney Crosby. The books are attractive, with well-labeled photos and readable text, and Red Sox and Seahawks fans will no doubt welcome this set, though the information is superficial and truncated. VERDICT Though these titles fail to rise above the crowd of materials on these topics, sports-minded browsers will find them engaging.

Johnson, Sean. Little League World Series. ISBN 9781629201559; ISBN 9781629201542; ISBN 9781629201535.

Petersen, Justin. Boston Marathon. ISBN 9781629201580; ISBN 9781629201573; ISBN 9781629201566.

––––. World Cup. ISBN 9781629201528; ISBN 9781629201511; ISBN 9781629201504.

Scarpati, Kevin. Indianapolis 500. ISBN 9781629201610; ISBN 9781629201603; ISBN 9781629201597.

ea vol: 32p. (World’s Greatest Sporting Events). chron. ebook available. glossary. photos. Scobre Educational. 2015. pap. $9.99. lib. ed. $26.65. ebk. $39.99.

Gr 4-7 –Four popular sporting events get a lively overview in these well-written books, supplemented by good photos and graphics. Short chapters limn the history of each event, accompanied by a time line noting milestones. Rules, equipment, venues, and how an individual or team qualifies are also covered; the Boston Marathon’s rigorous qualifying process includes competing in “feeder” races. Fascinating facts (the average pit stop is “just 10–14 seconds”) and anecdotes fill these pages. Excellent conclusions consider the impact of these events: Little League World Series notes that 42 participants have gone on to Major League careers and that the event draws a huge television audience. VERDICT Both readable and balanced, these well-crafted books help young sports fans connect with social studies and history.

Nickens, T. Field & Stream’s Guide to Camping. ISBN 9781482422986.

––––. Field & Stream’s Guide to Fishing. ISBN 9781482423006.

––––. Field & Stream’s Guide to Hunting. ISBN 9781482423020.

––––. Field & Stream’s Guide to Outdoor Survival. ISBN 9781482423044.

ea vol: 96p. (Field & Stream’s Guide to the Outdoors). illus. index. photos. Gareth Stevens. 2015. lib. ed. $35.95.

Gr 8 Up –This series will appeal to browsers who already have some background or experience with the topic. These aren’t how-to manuals but rather an assortment of readable tips and anecdotes, usually accompanied by illustrations or photos. Along with more conventional topics, there’s advice on how to deal with farting in close quarters, how to tell whether roadkill is safe to eat, and how best to dispose of toilet paper. The lack of organization limits the books’ appeal for students. Moreover, these aren’t practical manuals for those planning wilderness treks. Many of the suggestions seem aimed at mature audiences, especially those that involve driving or teaching a child how to hunt or fly fish. VERDICT Because these titles are excerpted from Nickens’s Field &Stream: The Total Outdoorsman Manual (Weldon Owen, 2011), skip them if your library already owns the original.

Rissman, Rebecca. Calm Girl: Yoga for Stress Relief. ISBN 9781491421215.

––––. Fit Girl: Yoga for Fitness and Flexibility. ISBN 9781491421208.

––––. Smart Girl: Yoga for Brain Power. ISBN 9781491421192.

––––. Strong Girl: Yoga for Building Strength. ISBN 9781491421222.

ea vol: 64p. (Yoga for You). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. 2015. lib. ed. $33.99.

Gr 6 Up –As these well-written guides point out, practicing yoga has many different benefits, including stress relief, improved mindfulness, and strength building. The core of each guide consists of step-by-step instructions to more than 20 poses and variations, demonstrated through double-page photos, well labeled with colored font. Text boxes add further instructions as necessary, and dotted lines show proper alignment or balance. Most have introductions, which denote the benefits of each pose, and all include the Sanskrit name for each pose, along with its phonetic pronunciation. Text boxes add simple, artfully worded tips. VERDICT Though there is some overlap of information among these four books, these well-crafted guides are sure to be popular among browsers and practitioners.

Several sets keep the needs of emergent readers in mind, such as Jump’s “I Love Sports,” a well-crafted series featuring eye-catching photos and simple texts, and Capstone’s action-packed “All About Sports.” Aimed at teens, Capstone’s “Yoga for You” is an exceptional guide with concise directions and attractive photos that demystifies yoga while making it accessible and appealing. Though it targets adult audiences, Rosen Young Adult’s “Fitness for the Mind and Body” also offers clear, thorough instructions.

Still other sets present intriguing and novel approaches to the topic. Mason Crest’s “STEM in Sports” offers a fascinating look at innovations such as the use of prosthetics that are transforming sports. ABDO’s “Greatest Events in Sports” considers sports milestones and their significance. Scobre’s “The World’s Greatest Sporting Events” also earns mention for its creative perspective, considering aspects such as the financial and social impact of sporting event like the Boston Marathon. Rosen’s “Insider Guide” offers a thorough, if rather dry look at rarely covered sports including field hockey, lacrosse, and water polo.

This article was published in School Library Journal's April 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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