Fair or Foul? | Sports Series Nonfiction

Whether they’re learning about a new extreme sport or getting interested in dance, kids will find much to enjoy in these series.


It’s been a weird year for sports and not in the wacky, fun way. With so many seasons stalled, restarted, or in jeopardy, fans are longing for game day. In fact, some are so desperate that they’re watching reruns of old games. These titles might not provide the same experience as watching Christian Yelich hit a home run or Steph Curry beat the buzzer to make a winning jump shot, but they offer a piece of the action while allowing readers to maintain social distancing. Whether they’re learning about a new extreme sport or getting interested in dance, kids will find much to enjoy in these series. Not sure where to start? Let us help you make the call!

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: Review copies for many of the books about the Olympics and its athletes refer to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Those Olympic Games have been postponed to at least 2021.



Carr, Aaron. BMX. ISBN 9781791126803.
––––. Motocross. ISBN 9781791126841.
––––. Skateboarding. ISBN 9781791126889.
––––. Skiing. ISBN 9781791126926.
––––. Snowboarding. ISBN 9781791126964.
––––. Surfing. ISBN 9781791127008.
ea vol: 24p. (Extreme Sports). Weigl/AV2. Aug. 2020. Tr. $28.55.
PreS-Gr 1 –Vibrant photos bursting with energy will draw young readers into this series. BMX, Motocross, and Skateboarding spotlight the fast-paced world of competitive bike and skateboard events, with pictures of children and adult riders. Skiing details the different skiing techniques and styles. Surfing explains some key safety concepts. In each book, necessary safety equipment is emphasized. The writing is straightforward. The text uses a bold, large sans-serif typeface, which is ideal for emerging readers who are just gaining confidence. VERDICT If you’re lacking extreme sports books for lower-elementary students, this set is exciting and engaging.

Kingsley, Imogen. Boys’ Lacrosse Fun. ISBN 9781977124760.
––––. Girls’ Lacrosse Fun. ISBN 9781977124777.
––––. Gymnastics Fun. ISBN 9781977124739.
––––. Soccer Fun. ISBN 9781977124708.
Omoth, Tyler. Baseball Fun. ISBN 9781977124722.
––––. Basketball Fun. ISBN 9781977124746.
––––. Football Fun. ISBN 9781977124715.
––––. Hockey Fun. ISBN 9781977124753.
ea vol: 24p. (Sports Fun). Capstone/Pebble. Aug. 2020. Tr. $27.99.
K-Gr 2 –This simple series explains the fundamentals of each sport. Images that often include clear labels supplement the text. A “Skill Builder” section helps kids learn the mechanics of important moves, including shooting and cradling the ball in lacrosse, doing a handstand in gymnastics, passing in football and soccer (though the methods are different), catching in baseball, dribbling in basketball, and shooting in hockey. Each title concludes with a discussion of good sportsmanship for ­players. The straightforward writing is concise, providing a general overview of each sport for beginners. ­VERDICT A fine addition for emerging readers.



Doeden, Matt. Could You Be a Monster Wave Surfer? ISBN 9781496681416.
Hoena, Blake. Could You Be a Big Mountain Skier? ISBN 9781496681492.
––––. Could You Be an Extreme Rock Climber? ISBN 9781496681409.
ea vol: 112p. (You Choose: Extreme Sports Adventures). Capstone. Aug. 2020. Tr. $32.65.
Gr 3-6 –Go surfing with your friends and choose between the Hawaii Pipeline, Nazaré beach in Portugal, and Shipstern Bluff in Tasmania—but watch out for those sharks! Or go freeskiing in British Columbia, backcountry skiing in northern Italy, or heli-skiing in Alaska (choose wisely so you don’t freeze to death). If rock climbing is more your speed, check out Grand Teton National Park, the Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park, or El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Whatever you decide, you’re likely to survive and learn a lot along the way. At the end of each book, informative chapters explain the history of each extreme sport and provide biographies of famous athletes, including Laird Hamilton, Ingrid Backstrom, and Alex Honnold. An index, a glossary, and websites are listed. VERDICT Sure to be extremely popular.

Fishman, Jon M. Baker Mayfield. ISBN 9781541597488.
––––. Katie Ledecky. ISBN 9781541597501.
––––. Khalil Mack. ISBN 9781541597495.
––––. Lamar Jackson. ISBN 9781541598966.
––––. Luka Doncic. ISBN 9781541597525.
––––. Megan Rapinoe. ISBN 9781541598959.
––––. Pete Alonso. ISBN 9781728414744.
––––. Russell Wilson. ISBN 9781728414720.
Smith, Elliott. Serena Williams. ISBN 9781728414737.
––––. Zion Williamson. ISBN 9781728414713.
ea vol: 32p. [Sports All-Stars (Lerner Sports)]. Lerner. Aug. 2020. Tr. $27.99.
Gr 2-5 –This series provides fresh biographies of today’s biggest names in sports. Football fanatics will love getting a closer look at the lives, careers, and workout routines of rookie quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens) and Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns), as well as veteran quarterback Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) and linebacker Khalil Mack (Chicago Bears). The bios of basketball and baseball players Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans), and Pete Alonso (New York Mets) follow a similar format to the NFL stars. Female athletes are spotlighted too—swimmer Katie Ledecky, soccer forward Megan Rapinoe, and tennis superstar Serena Williams get excellent full-scope treatments. Each book ends with a synopsis of the athlete’s charitable work. VERDICT This series spotlights household names, so librarians don’t have to cherry-pick titles for local interest. First purchases all around.

Lanier, Wendy Hinote & Heather Kissock. Ballet. ISBN 9781791123208.
––––. & Madeline Nixon. Hip-Hop Dance. ISBN 9781791123246.
––––. Irish Dance. ISBN 9781791123284.
Ransom, Candice & Madeline Nixon. Dance Team. ISBN 9781791123161.
––––. Jazz Dance. ISBN 9781791123369.
ea vol: 32p. (Just Dance). Weigl/AV2. Aug. 2020. Tr. $29.99.
Gr 3-4 –Each book provides a historical account of how the dance style was invented and its evolution over time. What students learn in a typical class varies from style to style. Some (like hip-hop) can be learned and performed solo, but many require hours of practice in a studio with other students to master the art. Costumes and necessary footwear are discussed. Every title concludes with a description of how to safely execute a classic move, with the exception of Modern Dance. This title encourages readers to emote through free movement. A comprehension quiz is featured at the end of the text. These are appropriate, thorough introductions for elementary readers who are just starting their research. VERDICT Fine first purchases if your dance collection is a little bare.

Osborne, M.K. Basketball. ISBN 9781681518213.
––––. Combat Sports. ISBN 9781681518220.
––––. Gymnastics. ISBN 9781681518237.
––––. Swimming and Diving. ISBN 9781681518244.
––––. Track and Field. ISBN 9781681518251.
––––. Volleyball. ISBN 9781681518268.
ea vol: 32p. (Summer Olympic Sports). Amicus/Amicus High Interest. Aug. 2020. Tr. $32.80.
Gr 2-5 –This series features many new Olympic sports and rules that have been added since the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. Gymnastics details the history of the sport and describes the differences between artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. Swimming and Diving describes the transition from synchronized to artistic swimming, and Combat Sports highlights the inclusion of karate. The overviews are somewhat simplistic and do not unpack the sometimes complicated rules of each sport. Nonetheless, they are welcome updates. Basketball, Combat Sports, and Swimming and Diving invite readers to watch the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, but the games have been postponed due to the pandemic. ­ VERDICT Purchase those that don’t have the date stamp of 2020.

Scheff, Matt. NBA and WNBA Finals: Basketball’s Biggest Playoffs. ISBN 9781541597594.
––––. The Stanley Cup Finals: Hockey’s Greatest Tournament. ISBN 9781541597587.
––––. The Summer Olympics: World’s Best Athletic Competition. ISBN 9781541597570.
––––. The Super Bowl: Football’s Game of the Year. ISBN 9781541597556.
––––. The World Cup: Soccer’s Greatest Tournament. ISBN 9781541597563.
––––. The World Series: Baseball’s Fall Classic. ISBN 9781541597549.
ea vol: 32p. [The Big Game (Lerner Sports)]. Lerner. Aug. 2020. Tr. $27.99.
Gr 2-5 –Sports’ biggest showdowns are detailed in this star-studded series. Readers will enjoy learning how teams end up in the finals and championship games before reliving triumphant moments, such as Brandi Chastain’s winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women’s World Cup. Short bios of top players, including WNBA star Maya Moore and NFL kicker Adam Vinatieri, highlight skill and talent. Fan culture is thoroughly discussed, with the focus on team pride and how sports can unify. There are funny tidbits. For instance, The Stanley Cup Finals discusses how the trophy is brought on a 100-day tour by the winning team’s players. They partake in normal but sometimes silly activities with the cup, such as bringing it on a roller coaster. The writing flows easily, and the series uses a simple layout, which keeps readers engaged. VERDICT Recommended for school and public libraries.



Gitlin, Martin. Concussions. ISBN 9781644933916.
Hewson, Anthony K. Sports Gambling. ISBN 9781644933930.
London, Martha. Pro Athlete Pay Equity. ISBN 9781644933923.
Mitchell, Bo. Superteams. ISBN 9781644933947.
ea vol: 48p. (Sports in the News). North Star Editions/Focus Readers. Aug. 2020. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 5-9 –Issues in sports are put under a microscope in this informative series. Concussions emphasizes the serious risk of brain injuries that can occur in contact and collision sports. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy can lead to significant impairment and life-threatening depression. Readers will come to understand that rule changes, not helmets, are the only way to effectively prevent concussions. Sports Gambling details the history of sports betting, how it negatively impacts sports, and the pros and cons of legalizing gambling. Pro Athlete Pay Equity focuses on the significant gender pay gap in professional sports, such as soccer and basketball. Superteams discusses the morality of building a superteam (teams with more than one major star). Focus questions throughout and at the end of each book challenge readers to think about the issues from different angles. VERDICT These are major topics in sports today, making this series a first purchase.

Gitlin, Marty. MLB. ISBN 9781532192067.
Glave, Tom. NFL. ISBN 9781532192098.
Graves, Will. NBA. ISBN 9781532192081.
Hoehn, Jim. WNBA. ISBN 9781532192111.
Marthaler, Jon. MLS. ISBN 9781532192074.
Nicks, Erin. NHL. ISBN 9781532192104.
ea vol: 112p. (Professional Sports Leagues). ABDO/Essential Library. Aug. 2020. Tr. $37.07.
Gr 6 Up –These thorough histories of each league are excellent resources for report writers. The text details the evolution of the game, memorable moments, storied stadiums, and big stars. MLB explains the farm system, the layout of the season and championships, historic venues, and scandals, such as the “steroid era.” Each book has a similar format to MLB, though the controversies are unique. NFL provides a section about chronic traumatic encephalopathy and concussions. NHL discusses the ongoing issue of racism and the Chicago Blackhawks’s logo. Brief biographies of star teams and athletes are included throughout, such as the Harlem Globetrotters, Sheryl Swoopes, David Beckham, and Mario Lemieux. The captivating writing will keep readers engaged even during the less exciting historical moments. Each title includes a brief sidebar about how COVID-19 has impacted the 2019–20 sports season. ­ VERDICT A first purchase.

Scarbrough, Mary Hertz. Chloe Kim. ISBN 9781731638298.
––––. Elena Delle Donne. ISBN 9781731638267.
––––. Megan Rapinoe. ISBN 9781731638236.
––––. Naomi Osaka. ISBN 9781731638281.
––––. Simone Biles. ISBN 9781731638250.
––––. Stephanie Gilmore. ISBN 9781731638274.
ea vol: 32p. (Women in Sports). Rourke/High Tide. Aug. 2020. Tr. $27.50.
Gr 4-9 –Learn about the fierce women who compete against the best and win. Snowboarder Chloe Kim and gymnast Simone Biles have set new standards in their sports. Elena Delle Donne and Megan Rapinoe are both amazing athletes who advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Naomi Osaka’s the first Japanese tennis player to win a Grand Slam title. Many of the athletes, including Australian surfer Stephanie Gilmore, are vocal about supporting pay equity. The biographies have just enough information for reports. Reading comprehension questions and suggested activities allow readers to think more deeply about the lives of these influential women. VERDICT If you don’t have any books about these phenomenal women on your shelves, this series is a good place to start.

Where are your weaknesses? What topics could use reinforcements? If your extreme sports section has seen better days, “Extreme Sports” (Weigl/AV2) and “You Choose: Extreme Sports Adventures” (Capstone) will revive it. Athlete biographies in trouble? Consider “Sports All-Stars (Lerner Sports)” (Lerner) and “Women in Sports” (Rourke/High Tide). Are all your dance books sad, dusty duds? “Just Dance” (Weigl/AV2) can jazz that collection up. “Professional Sports Leagues” (ABDO/Essential Library) and “The Big Game (Lerner Sports)” (Lerner) provide a thorough look at today’s biggest contests, while “Sports in the News” (North Star Editions/Focus Readers) examines the issues surrounding the industry. We did all the legwork—now the ball’s in your court. Get out there and make us proud!

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