Hunting and Figure Skating: Off-Beat Sports Series To Get Kids in the Game

A mix of popular and niche athletic fields provide something for everyone in this latest roundup of sports nonfiction.

Have you ever wished you could weed your whole sports nonfiction section and build a dream team from scratch? Well, a number of the following selections are real winners. In addition to the traditional big three (football, baseball, basketball), an array of unconventional sports are covered, including e-sports and motorsports as well as hunting, fishing, and mountain climbing. This season’s series are bound to suit patrons’ athletic aspirations.


Carpenter, Tom. Deer Hunting. ISBN 9781635172270; ISBN 9781635172928.

––––. Duck Hunting. ISBN 9781635172287; ISBN 9781635172935.

––––. Freshwater Fishing. ISBN 9781635172300; ISBN 9781635172959.

––––. Upland Bird Hunting. ISBN 9781635172317; ISBN 9781635172966.

Oachs, Emily Rose. Fly-Fishing. ISBN 9781635172294; ISBN 9781635172942.

Omoth, Tyler. Bear Hunting. ISBN 9781635172249; ISBN 9781635172898.

––––. Bowhunting. ISBN 9781635172256; ISBN 9781635172904.

––––. Deep-Sea Fishing. ISBN 9781635172263; ISBN 9781635172911.

ea vol: 32p. (The Outdoors). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Focus Readers. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $28.50. pap. $9.95.

Gr 2-4 –Readers will gain an appreciation for outdoor sports after dipping into this informative series. Filled with many captivating, full-color photographs, which feature a sampling of male and female hunters as well as animals in their natural habitats, there is much to look at and learn in these books. The straightforward texts offer overviews of each activity, outlining equipment, fishing and hunting methods, and critical safety guidelines. Each title has a visual equipment checklist kids could use to prepare themselves for a hunting expedition. Particularly in the hunting titles, readers (children and grown-ups alike) will appreciate the attention paid to the importance of attending hunter’s safety courses. In terms of safety, Bear Hunting in particular does not mince words about the serious dangers involved in the sport. There are no grisly field-dressing images, making these appropriate for children who are just beginning to form an interest in hunting and fishing. Each book concludes with a discussion on the conservation of natural habitats and the need to control the animal population. “Focus on” quiz questions at the end of each volume encourage deeper engagement with the text and are a mix of multiple choice and open-ended questions. V­ERDICT This series hits the mark, especially for its message on safety and conservation.

Doeden, Matt. Surviving the Marathon des Sables: An Interactive Extreme Sports Adventure. ISBN 9781515771678.

Hoena, Blake. Surviving Mount Everest: An Interactive Extreme Sports Adventure. ISBN 9781515771692.

––––. Surviving the Le Mans Auto Race: An Interactive Extreme Sports Adventure. ISBN 9781515771685.

Jacobsmeyer, Nicki. Surviving the Iditarod: An Interactive Extreme Sports Adventure. ISBN 9781515771708.

ea vol: 112p. (You Choose: Surviving Extreme Sports). index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $31.99.

Gr 4-6 –It’s life or death in this extreme sports addition to the popular “You Choose” format. While most readers will be familiar with the wintry scenes of the Iditarod and scaling Mount Everest, the Marathon des Sables and Le Mans Auto Race might be new ground for them to cover. No matter which adventure students choose, they will end up enjoying a grueling endurance race peppered with factual takeaways about the difficulties of participating in (and surviving) extreme sports. Readers might think that adventurers climb Mount Everest in one go, but they’ll learn in Surviving Mount Everest that climbers repeatedly climb up and down small segments over several days to adjust to the altitude. At the end of each book, background information and a segment called “Other Paths to Explore,” which encourages kids to consider the event from outside perspectives, such as a Moroccan child observing the race in Surviving the Marathon des Sables, are included. ­VERDICT Bound to circulate well among upper elementary schoolers.

Grace, Nicki Clausen & Jeff Grace. Basketball Science. ISBN 9781680721447; ISBN 9781680724936.

––––. Basketball Superstars. ISBN 9781680721423; ISBN 9781680724912.

––––. Basketball Teams by the Numbers. ISBN 9781680721430; ISBN 9781680724929.

––––. Football Science. ISBN 9781680721478; ISBN 9781680724967.

––––. Football Superstars. ISBN 9781680721454; ISBN 9781680724943.

––––. Football Teams by the Numbers. ISBN 9781680721461; ISBN 9781680724950.

ea vol: 32p. (Got Game). diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Black Rabbit. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $31.35. pap. $14.25.

Gr 1-3 –With lively, full-color photos, eye-catching infographics, and easy, readable text, these offerings will grab the attention of eager readers. The biggest names in the game are called out in Basketball Superstars and Football Superstars, both titles giving brief snapshots of some of the most famous players in their respective fields. Aside from these two offerings that contain fairly standard fare, the other selections in this series have much more to offer in terms of STEAM subjects. In addition to game-related statistics, Basketball Teams by the Numbers prompts readers to recognize the sizable gender pay gap in professional basketball. Football Science and Basketball Science will have the most curricular resonance, with discussion of force and movement as they pertain to sports. Unfortunately, concussions are not discussed in Football Science. Overall, there is good information here for those just beginning to familiarize themselves with basketball and football, but seasoned pros won’t find much new news. VERDICT An additional purchase.

Hinote Lanier, Wendy. Ballet. ISBN 9781635172713; ISBN 9781635173369.

––––. Ballroom Dance. ISBN 9781635172720; ISBN 9781635173376.

––––. Hip-Hop Dance. ISBN 9781635172744; ISBN 9781635173390.

––––. Irish Dance. ISBN 9781635172751; ISBN 9781635173406.

––––. Modern Dance. ISBN 9781635172775; ISBN 9781635173420.

––––. Tap Dance. ISBN 9781635172782; ISBN 9781635173437.

Ransom, Candice. Dance Team. ISBN 9781635172737; ISBN 9781635173383.

––––. Jazz Dance. ISBN 9781635172768; ISBN 9781635173413.

ea vol: 32p. (Shall We Dance?). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Focus Readers. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $28.50. pap. $9.95.

Gr 2-4 –Introductory views of several popular dance styles that include the history of each dance and an informative overview of the most basic techniques as well. Clothing, shoes, and, in several cases, hairstyles (Irish Dance and Ballet) are discussed. “Dance Tip” callouts offer ideas for dancers to build their focus and confidence. Questions at the end of each book encourage readers to reflect on what they’ve learned. While the dances and their simplest steps are described on a fairly basic level, readers won’t come away as experts. Kids are encouraged in many of the titles to seek out lessons for foundational dances, such as those discussed in Ballet and Jazz Dance, to lay the groundwork for more complex styles, like tap dance, ballroom dance, and dance teams. The lone exception to this is Modern Dance. While the book does explain that many dancers begin their journey in ballet or jazz lessons, it offers a refreshing, beginner-friendly attitude. VERDICT Worth considering to update collections on dance styles.

Nagelhout, Ryan. Baseball: Who Does What? ISBN 9781538204207; ISBN 9781538204092.

––––. Basketball: Who Does What? ISBN 9781538204221; ISBN 9781538205198.

––––. Football: Who Does What? ISBN 9781538204269; ISBN 9781538204245.

––––. Hockey: Who Does What? ISBN 9781538204313; ISBN 9781538204290.

––––. Lacrosse: Who Does What? ISBN 9781538204115; ISBN 9781538204337.

––––. Soccer: Who Does What? ISBN 9781538204153; ISBN 9781538204139.

ea vol: 32p. (Sports: What’s Your Position?). index. photos. websites. Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $26.60. pap. $10.50.

Gr 4-6 –In-depth descriptions of game play and the skills required for nearly every position make these titles great offerings for readers interested in learning more about their favorite sport. Every book explains what makes a player perfect for their position, such as fast reflexes for goalies in Hockey and a powerful throwing arm for those playing third base in Baseball. In addition to outlining the players, each selection briefly discusses rules in very general terms. Considering how much time is spent helping kids understand their strengths (and perhaps weaknesses as well), it’s incredibly important that each book reminds readers that their coach makes the calls and can help them develop into the best athlete they can be. All the titles are spot-on, with one small quibble: in Baseball, a home run is defined as “a hit that clears the center field fence,” though any outfield fence will do. ­VERDICT Highly recommended for tweens, especially for novice players looking to evaluate their strengths.

Peterson, Megan Cooley. Soccer Rules! ISBN 9781680721683; ISBN 9781680724653.

––––. Soccer Teams from Around the World. ISBN 9781680721706; ISBN 9781680724677.

––––. Soccer’s Biggest Moments. ISBN 9781680721690; ISBN 9781680724660.

––––. Stars of Men’s Soccer. ISBN 9781680721713; ISBN 9781680724684.

––––. Stars of Women’s Soccer. ISBN 9781680721720; ISBN 9781680724691.

––––. World Soccer Records. ISBN 9781680721737; ISBN 9781680724707.

ea vol: 32p. (On the Pitch). charts. diag. glossary. index. photos. websites. Black Rabbit. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $31.35. pap. $14.25.

Gr 1-3 –Full of infographics and high-energy sports photography, these hi-lo books will excite new soccer fans. Simple, concise text is broken up frequently by charts, graphs, and visual learning essentials. Stars of Women’s Soccer and Stars of Men’s Soccer include past and current popular players, with short bios of their careers. While these specific titles very clearly identify the soccer stars with names alongside their photos, others in the series don’t call out the players in the photos. Soccer Rules! will be particularly helpful to those just learning about soccer, with history, rules, and formations explained through text and infographics. Soccer’s Biggest Moments will provides readers with an understanding of the scope of the sport: a cease-fire was declared during a civil war in Nigeria in 1967 so civilians and soldiers could watch Pelé play in peace. The frequent graphic breaks between text and sampling of information will grab readers’ attention, particularly if they are just starting to familiarize themselves with the most popular sport in the world. VERDICT A fine, but not essential, addition to nonfiction collections.

Schuh, Mari. Baseball. ISBN 9781681510859; ISBN 9781681522043.

––––. Basketball. ISBN 9781681510842; ISBN 9781681522036.

––––. Football. ISBN 9781681510866; ISBN 9781681522050.

––––. Gymnastics. ISBN 9781681510873; ISBN 9781681522067.

––––. Hockey. ISBN 9781681510880; ISBN 9781681522074.

––––. Soccer. ISBN 9781681510897; ISBN 9781681522081.

ea vol: 16p. (Spot Sports). photos. websites. Amicus. Jul. 2017. lib. ed. $25.65. pap. $7.99.

PreS-Gr 1 –A simple look-and-find easy reader series with a sports twist for those in need of a fun challenge. Each title is structured the same way, with kids being asked to spot something on the player or field, followed by a description of the item they were meant to find. Filled with high-frequency sight words that help beginning readers understand the more unfamiliar sports terms, these are excellent easy readers. Large, full-color photographs include both male and female players. While the books are not necessarily unique, they are wonderfully enjoyable reads that will further ignite a love of athletics. VERDICT A great easy reader series, highly recommended for every collection.

Schulte, Mary E. Synchronized Skating. ISBN 9781515781868.

Schwartz, Heather E. Pairs Skating. ISBN 9781515781875.

––––. Singles Skating. ISBN 9781515781882.

Throp, Claire. Ice Skating. ISBN 9781515781851.

ea vol: 32p. (Figure Skating). glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.99.

Gr 4-6 –Clean, simple layouts, complemented by beautiful photography, enhance the clear writing in this excellent series. With the aid of consultant Kristin Eberth, a United States Figure Skating double gold medalist and professional skater with Disney on Ice, each book describes the basics of skating, practice, and performance. The standout title is Singles Skating, as it fully describes the different jumps, turns, and techniques that are frequently mentioned throughout the series but only completely detailed in this volume. Photos accompany the descriptions of skating techniques, providing visual learners with a deeper understanding of each one. “Fast Facts” asides include many trivia snippets that don’t otherwise fit into the text but offer a broader view of figure skating. In addition to a glossary, terms are defined on the same page where they’re first mentioned. VERDICT A lovely first purchase for new and seasoned figure skating pros, especially Singles Skating.

Stewart, Mark. A.C. Milan. ISBN 9781 599538556.

––––. Arsenal F.C. ISBN 9781599538563.

––––. C.A. River Plate. ISBN 9781599538679.

––––. Chelsea F.C. ISBN 9781599538587.

––––. F.C. Barcelona. ISBN 9781599538594.

––––. F.C. Bayern Munich. ISBN 9781599538570.

––––. Houston Dynamo. ISBN 9781 599538631.

––––. Los Angeles Galaxy. ISBN 9781 599538648.

––––. Manchester United. ISBN 9781 599538600.

––––. New York Red Bulls. ISBN 9781 599538655.

––––. Paris Saint-Germain. ISBN 9781 599538617.

––––. Portland Timbers. ISBN 9781599538662.

––––. Real Madrid C.F. ISBN 9781 599538624.

––––. São Paulo F.C. ISBN 9781599538686.

––––. Seattle Sounders F.C. ISBN 9781 599538693.

––––. Toronto F.C. ISBN 9781599538709.

ea vol: 24p. (First Touch Soccer). index. maps. photos. websites. Norwood. Jul. 2017. lib. ed. $23.93.

Gr 2-4 –Soccer fans will rejoice when they find a book about their favorite club. Using ample full-color photographs, this series provides a brief overview of the history of 16 different soccer clubs. Readers are first introduced to the team and given a snapshot of its history, its kit and crest (uniform and logo), and the pitch it calls home. Famous players are spotlighted through playing cards, which identify the players’ names, positions, and active years, as well as some of their greatest achievements. Each team’s rivalries and fans are described to give readers a clearer view of the team’s background. An infographic-style section shows on a map where some of the players on each team come from, illustrating the international nature of the sport. Memorable games, championships, and awards are identified for each club. VERDICT Particularly appealing for collections lacking titles on individual soccer clubs, this series is otherwise a serviceable addition.

Middle to High School

Axon, Rachel. Title IX Levels the Playing Field. ISBN 9781532111570.

Hall, Brian. Pioneers in Women’s Sports. ISBN 9781532111563.

Kortemeier, Todd. Greatest Female Athletes of All Time. ISBN 9781532111549.

––––. Greatest Moments in Women’s Sports. ISBN 9781532111556.

Rule, Heather. Women in Sports Media. ISBN 9781532111587.

––––. Women in the Olympics. ISBN 9781532111594.

ea vol: 48p. (Women in Sports). glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $32.79.

Gr 5 Up –Filled with excellent research and fodder for reports, each title is highly readable and chock-full of facts about female athletes. In Title IX Levels the Playing Field, readers will learn just how many schools challenged Title IX protections for female athletes. There is some crossover between Title IX and Pioneers in Women’s Sports, as many of the female titans spotlighted did their part to introduce opportunities for women to play at the collegiate and professional levels. Tennis pro Billie Jean King and her win in the “Battle of the Sexes” is enough to hook readers, but the stories of Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Mo’ne Davis will encourage readers even more. While all the selections in the series shine, Women in Sports Media stands out for its uniqueness. The triumphs of women breaking into sports journalism are described alongside the challenges; for instance, being barred from locker rooms and being sexually harassed by athletes and non-athletes alike. Photos perfectly enhance the text, supporting but not distracting from the narrative of each chapter. VERDICT A first purchase for tweens and teens.

Bradley, Michael. Pro Football’s Underdogs: Players and Teams Who Shocked the Football World. ISBN 9781515780489.

––––. Pro Hockey’s Underdogs: Players and Teams Who Shocked the Hockey World. ISBN 9781515780458.

Braun, Eric. Pro Baseball’s Underdogs: Players and Teams Who Shocked the Baseball World. ISBN 9781515780472.

––––. Pro Basketball’s Underdogs: Players and Teams Who Shocked the Basketball World. ISBN 9781515780465.

ea vol: 32p. (Sports Shockers!). further reading. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.99.

Gr 5-8 –This series is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Pro Football’s Underdogs includes tales of the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII upset of the heavily favored and undefeated Patriots, Kurt Warner’s transition from supermarket shelf stocker to Super Bowl–winning quarterback, and Tom Brady’s ascension from Drew Bledsoe’s backup to premier leader of a modern dynasty. Readers of Pro Basketball’s Underdogs might not think of Stephen Curry as an underdog, but for a long time, he was considered too small to be a serious competitor. Inclusion of MVPs and amazing athletes like Curry will have kids clamoring for these titles. Published with Sports Illustrated Kids, each book is full of facts, high-energy photos, and plenty of supplementary callouts that will make experts out of novices. VERDICT This series isn’t an underdog, it’s a heavily favored winner.

Douglas, Peter. Baseball & Softball: Success on the Diamond. ISBN 9781422239131.

––––. Basketball: Strategy on the Hardwood. ISBN 9781422239148.

––––. Cheerleading: Techniques for Performing. ISBN 9781422239155.

––––. Extreme Sports: Pointers for Pushing the Limits. ISBN 9781422239162.

––––. Football: Toughness on the Gridiron. ISBN 9781422239179.

––––. Lacrosse: Facing Off on the Field. ISBN 9781422239186.

––––. Soccer: Breaking Away on the Pitch. ISBN 9781422239193.

––––. Track & Field: Conditioning for Greatness. ISBN 9781422239209.

––––. Volleyball: Approaching the Net. ISBN 9781422239216.

––––. Wrestling: Contending on the Mat. ISBN 9781422239223.

ea vol: 80p. (Preparing for Game Day). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Mason Crest. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $.

Gr 6 Up –These incredibly thorough guides follow similar formats in an effort to help students prepare to take their sport by storm. Each begins with descriptions of sleep schedules, hydration levels, and meal guidelines for athletes, followed by warm-up and workout routines that help develop specific muscle groups, targeted at enhancing necessary skills. Mental prep and team psychology are considered as well, which will help readers get into the right frame of mind for game day. Along with full-color photographs, inspirational quotes in the margins from famous coaches and athletes will help motivate student athletes, perhaps giving them their mantra or motto that will carry them to greatness. Because of QR codes that link to videos, visual learners will benefit from these books, as much as those who prefer to learn through text. Each chapter ends with text-dependent questions and research suggestions to deepen comprehension. While the depth of the coverage is impressive, it does occasionally make for a dry read and will likely require dedicated readers. VERDICT Consider only to bolster sports collections for teens.

Edwards, Sue Bradford. Professional Gaming Careers. ISBN 9781599538907.

Marquardt, Meg. E-Sports Competitions. ISBN 9781599538938.

McCarthy, Cecilia Pinto. E-Sports Game Design. ISBN 9781599538921.

Mooney, Carla. Inside the E-Sports Industry. ISBN 9781599538914.

ea vol: 48p. (E-Sports: Game On!). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Norwood. Jul. 2017. lib. ed. $29.27.

Gr 5-8 –The popularity of e-sports is on the rise. Professional Gaming Careers is full of advice from professional gamers, including required training time to develop mastery of each game, care of injuries sustained while playing, and how to make money through tournaments, streaming, and sponsorships. Carrying on from there, E-Sports Competitions provides a deeper understanding of the equipment and training required to become a top gamer. Inside the E-Sports Industry and E-Sports Game Design chronicle the history of the gaming described, along with the process of game development from concept to completion. Readers who are interested in making gaming a career will get plenty of insight into how teams are developed, how gamers make and keep an audience of fans, and the reaction time and reflexes they must develop to excel in the various styles, including multiplayer online battle arena, first-person shooter, and real-time strategy games. While the writing itself is not super exciting, readers who seek these books will be pleased nonetheless. VERDICT Bound to be popular wherever games like Minecraft are in demand.

Savage, Jeff. Auto Racing Super Stats. ISBN 9781512434125.

––––. Baseball Super Stats. ISBN 9781512434071.

––––. Basketball Super Stats. ISBN 9781512434101.

––––. Football Super Stats. ISBN 9781512434088.

––––. Hockey Super Stats. ISBN 9781512434118.

––––. Soccer Super Stats. ISBN 9781512434095.

ea vol: 32p. (Pro Sports Stats). charts. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Lerner. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.99.

Gr 4-7 –Stat-obsessed readers will get what they came for with this series. Graphs add visual depth to the numbers and are frequently accompanied by photographs of players, along with a bit of biographical information about them and their careers. Most of the books include separate chapters with individual player and team statistics, but Auto Racing Super Stats is structured slightly differently, as there aren’t many statistics kept in auto racing other than wins. Unfortunately, the texts are vague in key areas. In Basketball Super Stats, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s dominance is used to explain why the NCAA banned dunking in the 1966–67 season, which is not the whole truth. He was dunking, but so were other African American players, and many believe the NCAA chose to ban dunking in an overt act of racism. Baseball Super Stats makes no mention of how segregation of the sport affects early stats. ­VERDICT Too many historical omissions make this an unnecessary purchase.

Weber, M. Wild Moments of Sports Car Racing. ISBN 9781515774051.

––––. Wild Moments of Stock Car Racing. ISBN 9781515774082.

––––. Wild Moments of Truck Racing. ISBN 9781515774075.

––––. Wild Moments on Dirt Bikes. ISBN 9781515774068.

ea vol: 32p. (Wild Moments of Motorsports). glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.99.

Gr 5-8 –Weber introduces and familiarizes readers with the major personalities of extreme racing sports through vivid writing. In addition to gaining an understanding of the beginning and development of each sport, readers will learn about the biggest, wildest, and most dangerous moments of all time. Thrilling episodes almost always involve wicked injuries, such as Danny Chandler’s serious head trauma in Wild Moments on Dirt Bikes and Geraldo Piquet’s fiery rollover crash in Wild Moments of Truck Racing. Lots of colorful photos and informational sidebars break up the text but don’t distract from the otherwise exciting stories. With words defined on each page as well as in the glossary, readers can avoid the tedious flipping and focus on comprehension. Readers who are mostly familiar with NASCAR or other popular televised racing events can expose themselves to new arenas and find familiar ground in titles like Wild Moments of Stock Car Racing, with Dale Earnhardt’s famous “pass in the grass.” VERDICT An ambitious series like this is sure to circulate, especially among car lovers.

Some fan favorites this season are clear: ABDO’s “Women in Sports,” Capstone’s “Sports Shockers!,” Focus Reader’s “The Outdoors,” Gareth Stevens’s “What’s Your Position?,” and Capstone’s “Figure Skating.” These rookies will be frequent starters, spending less time on the shelf than in the hands of eager readers.

Abby Bussen, Muskego Public Library, WI

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