The Sports Pages

, ed. Bk. 3. 260p. (Guys Read Series Series). HarperCollins/Walden Pond Pr. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-196378-0; pap. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-06-196377-3; ebook $5.99. ISBN 978-0-06-219014-7.
Gr 4 Up—In his introduction, Scieszka states, "In keeping with the competitive spirit of sports, here is a collection of the fastest, strongest, funniest, wildest, and best sports stories." But this anthology is uneven and doesn't live up to that claim. It presents 10 short stories by 10 different authors, including Joseph Bruchac, Tim Green, and Gordon Korman plus autobiographical pieces by TV sportscaster James Brown and LA Kings hockey star Dustin Brown. One of the best is Dan Gutman's "How I Won the World Series," which is fun and funny. The same can be said about Anne Ursu's "Max Swings for the Fences," about a boy who claims to be the son of a famous baseball player to impress a girl he likes at his new school. Chris Rylander's "I Will Destroy You, Derek Jeter" is another fun tale. In it, a boy who was humiliated on TV when attempting to catch a ball hit into the stands by Derek Jeter comes up with several convoluted plots (including a witch doctor's spell) to "get even" with the Yankee star. Of the two nonfiction choices, James Brown's writing style and emphasis on education is much more impressive than Dustin Brown's. In general, these stories tend to leave readers unsatisfied-either with too many unanswered questions or wanting more of the best ones. This may lead them to search for more information or to read some of the full-length stories by the authors they liked. Maybe. There is no urgent need to add this one to your collection.Kate Kohlbeck, Randall School, Waukesha, WI
From stirring tales of overcoming the odds to humorous depictions of angry fans, this collection offers a wide range of fiction and nonfiction by authors Dustin Brown, James Brown, Joseph Bruchac, Chris Crutcher, Tim Green, Dan Gutman, Gordon Korman, Chris Rylander, Anne Ursu, and Jacqueline Woodson. As Jon Scieszka promises in his introduction, these captivating tales “reveal character and truths bigger than . . . the story,” just like a good sports game does. For example, in “Find Your Fire” by Green, eighth-grade football player Jake’s priorities change dramatically when he learns his once wealthy family faces money problems. Readers will relate not only to the players in these pages, but also to the devoted, occasionally obsessive fans. In Gutman’s hilarious true story about letting superstition get the best of him, he insists on holding a grapefruit while watching a Mets – Red Sox World Series game on television. With faux casualness, Gutman writes: “it certainly couldn’t hurt to hold a grapefruit while watching a ball game, right?” Lively, expressive artwork by Dan Santat precedes each chapter, signaling shifts in mood and hinting at the upcoming content.

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