Game On!: Sports | Series Nonfiction

Sports readers of all ages, from rookies to junior varsity stars, will be signing up for a chance to checkout these titles.

1611-sms-sportsDoes selecting sports nonfiction make you feel a little deflated? Don’t suspend yourself from the game—this reviewer’s got the hot ticket to some smart choices. The series below include some real team players that will appeal to a wide range of students, from peewees to varsity teens. There are beginner introductions to sports both mild and wild, biographies highlighting diversity in athletics, interactive research guides, and much more. So start your engines, flip your coins, and yell “Play ball!”—it’s game time!


Anthony, David. Girls Play Hockey. ISBN 9781499420999; ISBN 9781499420975; ISBN 9781499421002.

Forest, Anne. Girls Play Volleyball. ISBN 9781499421132; ISBN 9781499421118; ISBN 9781499421149.

Jones, Emma. Girls Play Rugby. ISBN 9781499421071; ISBN 9781499421057; ISBN 9781508149651.

Rogers, Amy. Girls Play Basketball. ISBN 9781499420951; ISBN 9781499420937; ISBN 9781499420968.

––––. Girls Play Softball. ISBN 9781499421095; ISBN 9781508149644; ISBN 9781499421101.

Rogers, Kate. Girls Play Lacrosse. ISBN 9781499421033; ISBN 9781499421019; ISBN 9781499421040.

ea vol: 24p. (Girls Join the Team). chart. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. PowerKids. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $23.60. pap. $8.25. ebk. $23.60.

Gr 4-6 –Highlighting a range of popular women’s sports, this series documents the origins, major events, and current state of each one. In addition to star athletes, the basic rules and game play of each are covered. For sports with no professional leagues, such as field hockey, alternative means for continuing to play after high school or college are mentioned (e.g., the Olympics). Basketball is notable for its inclusion of Paralympic wheelchair basketball players. Perhaps most important, each book dedicates space to the significance of teamwork and good sportsmanship on and off the field. VERDICT Recommended for girls who got game—and upper elementary collections.

Bach, Rachel. The Bike Race. ISBN 9781607539100; ISBN 9781681510347.

––––. The Boat Race. ISBN 9781607539117; ISBN 9781681510354.

––––. The Car Race. ISBN 9781607539124; ISBN 9781681510361.

––––. The Go-Kart Race. ISBN 9781607539131; ISBN 9781681510378.

––––. The Hot Air Balloon Race. ISBN 9781607539148; ISBN 9781681510385.

––––. The Monster Truck Race. ISBN 9781607539179; ISBN 9781681510415.

Schuh, Mari. The Motorcycle Race. ISBN 9781607539155; ISBN 9781681510392.

––––. The Tractor Race. ISBN 9781607539162; ISBN 9781681510408.

ea vol: 16p. (Let’s Race). diag. photos. Amicus. Jul. 2016. lib. ed. $17.95. ebk. $36.65.

K-Gr 2 –Bright, bold photographs support the simple text of these high-interest easy readers. Each book focuses on a different type of race, providing a play-by-play from start to finish line. While not particularly informative, the writing is engaging. Colorful backgrounds edged with tire tracks allow readers to focus on the oversize text. While the bulk of the series focuses on well-known topics, Hot Air Balloon Race and Tractor Race showcase two less covered racing sports and offer something new and exciting. For little ones who love truck and car books, this series could easily bridge the gap between picture books and nonfiction. VERDICT Amusing but not essential purchases for easy reader collections.

Braun, Eric. Super Bowl Records. ISBN 9781515726364.

––––. Super Bowl Surprises. ISBN 9781515726340.

Frederick, Shane. Stars of the Super Bowl. ISBN 9781515726357.

––––. The Super Bowl’s Greatest Plays. ISBN 9781515726333.

ea vol: 32p. (Everything Super Bowl). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $20.99.

Gr 4-6 –Considering the popularity of the Super Bowl, this set should have no trouble finding an audience. Super Bowl Records is a real winner for its wide range of coverage, from individual games to career-long overviews of players like Jerry Rice, who has the most career Super Bowl receptions. Stars of the Super Bowl focuses heavily on quarterbacks, with less attention to the contributions of other offensive powerhouses. The most exciting offering of the bunch, Super Bowl Surprises, provides students with underdog stories of teams that went against the odds to topple their giant opponents. Some overlap occurs throughout the series, though in most cases it is minor. VERDICT Entertaining sports writing makes this a worthy addition to any library.

Challen, Paul. What Does a Center Do? ISBN 9781508150442; ISBN 9781508150497; ISBN 9781508150381.

––––. What Does a Point Guard Do? ISBN 9781508150459; ISBN 9781508150503; ISBN 9781508150398.

––––. What Does a Power Forward Do? ISBN 9781508150466; ISBN 9781508150510; ISBN 9781508150404.

––––. What Does a Shooting Guard Do? ISBN 9781508150473; ISBN 9781508150527; ISBN 9781508150411.

––––. What Does a Small Forward Do? ISBN 9781508150480; ISBN 9781508151562; ISBN 9781508150435.

ea vol: 32p. (Basketball Smarts). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. PowerKids. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $26.25. pap. $10. ebk. $26.25.

Gr 4-6 –Readers who are eager to learn how to shoot some hoops will appreciate this informative series. Each book details the on-court duties of one of the five basketball positions. Different offensive, defensive, and passing strategies are outlined. However, descriptions of key plays are without diagrams. Photos include male and female athletes in action. While the content is great, it does suffer from an issue common in works about sports—the quick-changing status of players. For example, Kevin Durant was traded to the Golden State Warriors in the off season of 2016, but Small Forward still bills him with the Oklahoma City Thunder. VERDICT Despite errors, this is a winning series.

Donner, Erica. Skateboarding. ISBN 9781620313619; ISBN 9781624964084.

––––. Volleyball. ISBN 9781620313640; ISBN 9781624964114.

Meister, Cari. Bowling. ISBN 9781620313589; ISBN 9781624964053.

––––. Golf. ISBN 9781620313596; ISBN 9781624964060.

––––. Lacrosse. ISBN 9781620313602; ISBN 9781624964077.

––––. Softball. ISBN 9781620313626; ISBN 9781624964091.

––––. Tae Kwon Do. ISBN 9781620313633; ISBN 9781624964107.

ea vol: 24p. (I Love Sports). glossary. index. photos. websites. Jump!/Bullfrog. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $25.65. ebk. $17.95.

K-Gr 2 –Running swiftly through preparations and game play, simple text and ample photographs introduce students to some less publicized athletics. The info provided is enough to pique the interest of young sports enthusiasts, but does not offer detailed rules of the games discussed. Kids who are already familiar with the subjects will not learn anything new; however, this set is a great introduction to alternative sports for beginning readers. Photos include a diverse cast of kids of different ages and genders enjoying the sports safely. Bowling notably includes a differently abled child as well. VERDICT A bit niche, but worthy additions nonetheless.

Edwards, Erika. What if I Get a Sprain? ISBN 9781482448894; ISBN 9781482448955; ISBN 9781482448818.

Hayes, Amy. What if I Feel Faint? ISBN 9781482448870; ISBN 9781482448931; ISBN 9781482448795.

Machajewski, Sarah. What if I Break a Tooth? ISBN 9781482448863; ISBN 9781482448924; ISBN 9781482448771.

Nagelhout, Ryan. What if I Get a Concussion? ISBN 9781482448887; ISBN 9781482448948; ISBN 9781482448801.

Rajczak Nelson, Kristen. What if I Break a Bone? ISBN 9781482448856; ISBN 9781482448917; ISBN 9781482448757.

Shea, Therese. What if I Need Stitches? ISBN 9781482448900; ISBN 9781482448962; ISBN 9781482448849.

ea vol: 24p. (Benched: Dealing with Sports Injuries). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $22.60. pap. $8.15. ebk. $22.60.

Gr 2-4 –Using clear language, these titles walk kids through the signs of common sports-related injuries and then explain what to do in the event of one (it’s almost always “Get an adult”). The variability of healing times show how serious some situations can be; for broken teeth, players get back in the game quickly, while for others (like bone breaks and concussions), the healing time is longer, and can include rehabilitation. A story about a notable professional who has sustained one of these common injuries is featured at the end of each volume. With the focus on sports safety in today’s world, the content here isn’t new, but it could be helpful in explaining to children why they can’t get back in the game right away. VERDICT A helpful but not essential addition.

Flynn, Brendan. Baseball Time! ISBN 9781512414318.

––––. Basketball Time! ISBN 9781512414325.

––––. Football Time! ISBN 9781512414332.

––––. Gymnastics Time! ISBN 9781512414363.

––––. Soccer Time! ISBN 9781512414349.

––––. Swimming Time! ISBN 9781512414356.

ea vol: 24p. (Bumba Books: Sports Time!). chart. diag. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. Lerner. Sept. 2016. lib. ed. $25.32.

K-Gr 2 –Bright, action-packed photos and simple text make this a dynamite choice for beginning readers. More detailed and informative than similar series, these books explain basic rules for each of the sports discussed. While the information is not detailed enough to allow immediate mastery, the specifics discussed offer a nice introduction for kids who are thinking of trying a new sport. Critical thinking questions throughout allow students to think about and apply what they’ve read. The sports covered are all popular enough to have a built-in audience, and the diversity of kids included in the pictures will make parents and teachers happy. VERDICT First-round draft picks with crowd-pleasing potential.

Laughlin, Kara L. Basketball. ISBN 9781503807716; ISBN 9781503813199.

––––. Cross-Country Skiing. ISBN 9781503807723; ISBN 9781503813205.

––––. Dodgeball. ISBN 9781503807730; ISBN 9781503813212.

––––. Downhill Skiing. ISBN 9781503807747; ISBN 9781503813229.

––––. Flag Football. ISBN 9781503807754; ISBN 9781503813236.

––––. Gymnastics. ISBN 9781503807761; ISBN 9781503813243.

––––. Hockey. ISBN 9781503807778; ISBN 9781503813250.

––––. Ice Fishing. ISBN 9781503807785; ISBN 9781503813267.

––––. Snowboarding. ISBN 9781503807792; ISBN 9781503813274.

––––. Soccer. ISBN 9781503807808; ISBN 9781503813281.

––––. T-Ball. ISBN 9781503807815; ISBN 9781503813298.

––––. Tennis. ISBN 9781503807822; ISBN 9781503813304.

ea vol: 24p. (Beginning Sports). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. The Child’s World. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $27.07. ebk. $27.07.

K-Gr 2 –Notable for its excellent coverage of some lesser-covered sports, this series is a useful selection to round out easy reader collections. Very basic info and small asides give a general rundown of how each sport is played. Color-blocked backgrounds and bright photos keep the focus on the text. With no mention of specific people or places, these books won’t become dated too quickly. The titles covering winter sports don’t have equals in current publication, so those ones will be great buys, particularly in the northern United States. The coverage of flag football and T-ball (instead of professional football and baseball, respectively) endears this series to those who want readers to focus on the fun, not the pageantry, of the sport. VERDICT Recommended for first purchase.

Leventhal, Josh. Albert Pujols. ISBN 9781680720495; ISBN 9781680723069; ISBN 9781680721195.

––––. Félix Hernández. ISBN 9781680720471; ISBN 9781680723052; ISBN 9781680721171.

––––. José Altuve. ISBN 9781680720440; ISBN 9781680723021; ISBN 9781 680721140.

––––. Miguel Cabrera. ISBN 9781680720457; ISBN 9781680723038; ISBN 9781680721157.

––––. Nelson Cruz. ISBN 9781680720464; ISBN 9781680723045; ISBN 9781 680721164.

ea vol: 32p. (Béisbol). chron. chart. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Black Rabbit/Bolt. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $31.35. pap. $9.95. ebk.

Gr 2-4 –Baseball fans will enjoy these short overviews of some of Major League Baseball’s biggest Latino stars. Overall, not much is shared about the personal lives of the athletes, which in turn makes information about early adversity in Pujols’s life seem a little out of place. While most of these men had a relatively swift transition from minor to major leagues, discussion of Cruz’s many years moving around to various ball clubs offers a message of persistence to readers. The inclusion of graphics, statistics, trivia, and a time line at the end of each book makes them quick picks for browsers and fans. VERDICT A sound additional purchase wherever baseball fans can be found.

Loh-Hagan, Virginia. Extreme Cliff Diving. ISBN 9781634710893; ISBN 9781634712873; ISBN 9781634713863.

––––. Extreme Downhill Ski Racing. ISBN 9781634710923; ISBN 9781634712903; ISBN 9781634713894.

––––. Extreme Flyboarding. ISBN 9781634710909; ISBN 9781634712880; ISBN 9781634713870.

––––. Extreme MotoGP. ISBN 9781 634710916; ISBN 9781634712897; ISBN 9781634713887.

ea vol: 32p. (Nailed It!). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Cherry Lake. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $20.95. pap. $9.95. ebk. $32.95.

Gr 2-4 –A selection for readers interested in all things extreme. Chapters are presented in a question-and-answer format. Compact, simple sentences enhance understandability, but aren’t very stimulating. The best of the bunch, Extreme Flyboarding, outlines the basics of the young sport, which was developed in 2012. “Nailed It!” sidebars are peppered throughout each title and spotlight a leading figure in the field. The zaniness of these subjects is the draw here. VERDICT While the topics are wild, the writing is bland and may not hold much interest.

Maurer, Tracy Nelson. Uneven Bars: Tips, Rules, and Legendary Stars. ISBN 9781515722199.

––––. Vaulting: Tips, Rules, and Legendary Stars. ISBN 9781515722212.

Schwartz, Heather E. Balance Beam: Tips, Rules, and Legendary Stars. ISBN 9781515722229.

––––. Floor Exercise: Tips, Rules, and Legendary Stars. ISBN 9781515722182.

ea vol: 32p. (Gymnastics). further reading. glossary. index. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $20.99.

Gr 4-6 –Focusing on women’s competitive gymnastics, each entry in this series includes a visual and written description of techniques, as well as information about each event’s most famous stars. There is frequent mention of working with a gymnastics club and coach to hopefully keep readers from attempting difficult maneuvers on their own and injuring themselves (descriptions of more advanced moves are almost always accompanied by a safety reminder that they should be practiced at a gym with a coach). Though rules are mentioned, they’re not in-depth enough to give more than a basic overview. Some photos of boys are included, but the work is mostly directed at girl gymnasts. VERDICT Purchase if your gymnastics collection needs a fresh face.

Strand, Jennifer. Arthur Ashe. ISBN 9781680792485; ISBN 9781680793321.

––––. Babe Didrikson Zaharias. ISBN 9781680792492; ISBN 9781680793338.

––––. Billie Jean King. ISBN 9781680792508; ISBN 9781680793345.

––––. Jackie Robinson. ISBN 9781 680792515; ISBN 9781680793352.

––––. Muhammad Ali. ISBN 9781680792522; ISBN 9781680793369.

––––. Roberto Clemente. ISBN 9781680792539; ISBN 9781680793376.

ea vol: 24p. (Trailblazing Athletes). chron. glossary. index. photos. ABDO. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $18.95. ebk. $33.95.

K-Gr 2 –Sports fans are given phenomenal role models in this series. With straightforward text, each book offers information not only about the careers of the featured athletes, but also their histories of activism. In addition to being the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali was also a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. With a great selection of supporting photos and a clean layout, readers will be inspired by not only the talent, but the heart and dedication to humanity of these athletes. VERDICT A first purchase for all libraries.

Whiting, Jim. AC Milan. ISBN 9781608187997; ISBN 9781628323528; ISBN 9781566608466.

––––. Bayern Munich. ISBN 9781608188000; ISBN 9781628323535; ISBN 9781566608473.

––––. FC Barcelona. ISBN 9781608188017; ISBN 9781628323542; ISBN 9781 566608480.

––––. Liverpool FC. ISBN 9781608188024; ISBN 9781628323559; ISBN 9781 566608497.

––––. Manchester United. ISBN 9781608188031; ISBN 9781628323566; ISBN 9781566608503.

––––. Real Madrid. ISBN 9781608188048; ISBN 9781628323573; ISBN 9781 566608510.

ea vol: 24p. (Soccer Stars). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Creative Education. Sept. 2016. lib. ed. $19.95. pap. $9.95. ebk. $28.50.

Gr 2-4 –These books walk readers through a simplified version of the history of several European soccer clubs. Covering some of the most popular teams in Europe, each title includes historical facts plus brief bios of each team’s most well-known players. Occasionally, a photo of a player will be on a page where a different athlete is discussed. The bright images and big-name stars are likely to pull in readers, though they probably won’t be picked up by casual browsers. VERDICT Consider for avid soccer fans.

Yomtov, Nel. Being Your Best at Baseball. ISBN 9780531232620; ISBN 9780531236130.

––––. Being Your Best at Basketball. ISBN 9780531232606; ISBN 9780531236116.

––––. Being Your Best at Cheerleading. ISBN 9780531232651; ISBN 9780531236161.

––––. Being Your Best at Football. ISBN 9780531232644; ISBN 9780531236154.

––––. Being Your Best at Soccer. ISBN 9780531232613; ISBN 9780531236123.

ea vol: 48p. (A True Book: Sports and Entertainment). diag. glossary. index. photos. websites. Children’s Pr. Sept. 2016. lib. ed. $29. pap. $7.95.

Gr 2-4 –Stuffed with rules, tips, and facts, these books will inspire students to work hard at their preferred sport. Descriptions of the most important rules make sure readers take the field (or court) with strong basic knowledge. While most children will have some firsthand knowledge of these topics, the technical descriptions of maneuvers would be better accompanied by photos. However, the included field or court diagrams are helpful. These books excel in their inclusion of diverse athletes—most notably in Basketball, which includes photos of a game of wheelchair basketball. VERDICT Adequate selections where needed.

Middle to High School

Andrew, Luke. Football. ISBN 97814 22234600; ISBN 9781422284223.

––––. Golf. ISBN 9781422234617; ISBN 9781422284230.

––––. Ice Hockey. ISBN 9781422234631; ISBN 9781422284254.

––––. Lacrosse. ISBN 9781422234648; ISBN 9781422284261.

––––. Soccer. ISBN 9781422234655; ISBN 9781422284278.

––––. Tennis. ISBN 9781422234662; ISBN 9781422284285.

––––. Track & Field. ISBN 9781422234679; ISBN 9781422284292.

––––. Wrestling. ISBN 9781422234686; ISBN 9781422284308.

Luke, Andrew. Auto Racing. ISBN 9781422234563; ISBN 9781422284186.

––––. Baseball. ISBN 9781422234570; ISBN 9781422284193.

––––. Basketball. ISBN 9781422234587; ISBN 9781422284209.

Mason Crest. Extreme Sports. ISBN 9781422234594; ISBN 9781422284216.

––––. Gymnastics. ISBN 9781422234624; ISBN 9781422284247.

ea vol: 80p. (Inside the World of Sports). chron. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Mason Crest. Sept. 2016. lib. ed. $24.95. ebk. $31.95.

Gr 7 Up –Supplemented by video clips (through QR codes), these books create an interactive learning environment teens will appreciate. Each book follows the same information-packed format. Beginning with a highlight reel of the greatest moments in the topic sport, each title goes on to explore the origin, evolution, and future of it along with portraits of contemporary and all-star players. Each chapter ends with text-dependent questions and research opportunities to deepen readers’ understanding of the material. Extreme Sports notably includes a segment about the biological effect of extreme sports on the brain—the release of dopamine and adrenaline pushing athletes to want more danger. VERDICT A recommended first purchase for teen sports collections.

Barber, Phil. Football and Player Safety. ISBN 9781422235782; ISBN 9781422283011.

Brock, Ted. Inside Pro Football Media. ISBN 9781422235812; ISBN 9781422283042.

––––. Running Pro Football: Commissioner, Owners, Front Office, and More. ISBN 9781422235850; ISBN 9781422283080.

Buckley, James, Jr. Fantasy Football. ISBN 9781422235775; ISBN 9781422283004.

Ellenport, Craig. The Super Bowl: More Than a Game. ISBN 9781422235867; ISBN 9781422283097.

Gigliotti, Jim. The Intense World of a Pro Football Coach. ISBN 9781422235829; ISBN 9781422283059.

––––. The Pro Football Draft. ISBN 9781422235836; ISBN 9781422283066.

Peterson, Brian C. & Katie O’Hare. Pro Football Players in the News: Two Sides of the Story. ISBN 9781422235843; ISBN 9781422283073.

Walters, John. Inside College Football: Preparing for the Pros. ISBN 9781422235799; ISBN 9781422283028.

––––. Inside High School Football: A Changing Tradition. ISBN 9781422235805; ISBN 9781422283035.

ea vol: 64p. (All About Professional Football). chron. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Mason Crest. Sept. 2016. lib. ed. $23.95. ebk. $29.95.

Gr 5 Up –If readers are indeed ready for some football, this series is for them. Covering nearly every aspect of the game from high school to professional gridiron (as well as armchair quarterback territory), these books look at topics both clean and gritty in the wide world of football. Each chapter ends with text-dependent questions that allow readers to reflect back on what they’ve learned, as well as further research opportunities that prompt them to dig deeper. The timeliest topics, Football and Player Safety and Pro Football Players in the News, don’t shy away from the recent concussion and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) controversy. While the writing isn’t always stunning, it is well informed. VERDICT A solid buy.

Luckily, collection development isn’t a single-player game. For your rookies, Lerner’s “Sports Time!” and The Child’s World’s “Beginning Sports” are excellent introductions that pair basic information with the zing-pow of bright photos. No selection stands out more than ABDO’s “Trailblazing Athletes,” which will inspire readers to be excellent on and off the field. Middle schoolers will enjoy Capstone’s “Everything Super Bowl” and PowerKids’ “Basketball Smarts.” Teens will appreciate Mason Crest’s “Inside the World of Sports.” Put some of these stellar series among your new books and they could go all the way!

Abby Bussen, Muskego Public Library, WI

For the latest nonfiction series reviews, check out the Fall 2016 Series Made Simple

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