We Are the Champions | Sports Series Nonfiction

Even people unfamiliar with organized sports know that in most games, there are winners and losers.


Even people unfamiliar with organized sports know that in most games, there are winners and losers. Try as they might, not every team or athlete is skilled (or in some cases, lucky) enough to make their mark. The same is true with books! The authors pour their hearts onto the pages, leaving it all on the field so to speak. Sometimes they shoot and score! In other unfortunate cases, they swing and miss. For athletes and authors, their work is all about entertaining and engaging the fans, giving them memorable experiences they can carry with them for days or even decades to come. The series selected for this roundup include some real heavy hitters that are sure to enthrall … and a couple of benchwarmers that might not see much game time. Check out our official scouting report to see which ones you’ll want to add to your starting lineup!



Anderson, Josh. Arizona Cardinals. ISBN 9781503857711.
––––. Atlanta Falcons. ISBN 9781503857896.
––––. Baltimore Ravens. ISBN 9781503857728.
––––. Buffalo Bills. ISBN 9781503857742.
––––. Carolina Panthers. ISBN 9781503857889.
––––. Chicago Bears. ISBN 9781503857612.
––––. Cincinnati Bengals. ISBN 9781503857759.
––––. Cleveland Browns. ISBN 9781503857766.
––––. Dallas Cowboys. ISBN 9781503857629.
––––. Denver Broncos. ISBN 9781503857704.
––––. Detroit Lions. ISBN 9781503857858.
––––. Green Bay Packers. ISBN 9781503857636.
––––. Houston Texans. ISBN 9781503857773.
––––. Indianapolis Colts. ISBN 9781503857643.
––––. Jacksonville Jaguars. ISBN 9781503857797.
––––. Kansas City Chiefs. ISBN 9781503857803.
––––. Las Vegas Raiders. ISBN 9781503857827.
––––. Los Angeles Chargers. ISBN 9781503857810.
––––. Los Angeles Rams. ISBN 9781503857902.
––––. Miami Dolphins. ISBN 9781503857674.
––––. Minnesota Vikings. ISBN 9781503857865.
––––. New England Patriots. ISBN 9781503857650.
––––. New Orleans Saints. ISBN 9781503857698.
––––. New York Giants. ISBN 9781503857667.
––––. New York Jets. ISBN 9781503857735.
––––. Philadelphia Eagles. ISBN 9781503857834.
––––. Pittsburgh Steelers. ISBN 9781503857681.
––––. San Francisco 49ers. ISBN 9781503857919.
––––. Seattle Seahawks. ISBN 9781503857926.
––––. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ISBN 9781503857872.
––––. Tennessee Titans. ISBN 9781503857780.
––––. Washington Commanders. ISBN 9781503857841.
ea vol: 32p. (Professional Football Teams). The Child’s World/Stride. Aug. 2022. Tr. $32.79.
Gr 2-4 –Covering each of the teams in the National Football League, this series briefly runs through each teams’ history, including their notable players and impactful coaches. In addition to short biographies of “legacy” players, the books include writeups of current stars who readers may find more familiar. This attention to past and present highlights the decades of blood, sweat, and tears athletes, coaches, and fans have poured into football. “The GOAT” segments in each book take a moment to celebrate players whose names are synonymous with their team, like the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Lewis, the Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning, and the Green Bay Packers’ Brett Favre. Aside from a short mention of the racist history of the Washington Commodores’ previous team name, the series shies away from the many controversies in the modern-day NFL. The clear, eager writing focuses on the love of the game. VERDICT A fine additional purchase if your NFL books need updating.

Mazzarella, Kerri. Deep Sea Fishing. ISBN 9781039660397.
––––. Fly Fishing. ISBN 9781039660410.
––––. Freshwater Fishing. ISBN 9781039660380.
––––. Ice Fishing. ISBN 9781039660403.
––––. Pier Fishing. ISBN 9781039660434.
––––. Spearfishing. ISBN 9781039660427.
ea vol: 32p. (Let’s Go Fish). Crabtree/Crabtree Branches. Sept. 2022. Tr. $30.60.
Gr 2-4 –These simple introductions to fishing are ideal for beginning anglers. Each book walks readers through the gear and skills they’ll need to go fish. Spearfishing, Ice Fishing, and Fly Fishing have unique gear that can be quite expensive and difficult to acquire. Mazzarella does an exceptional job of not only explaining what they’ll need, but also estimating the average cost of those items. This is a welcome addition for readers who are deciding if this sport is worth the investment. The writing is clear and personable with an instructional feel. “Fun Facts” callouts on most pages add extra information that doesn’t fit the flow of the text. The photos could benefit from having more diversity and more children, but selectors will have to decide if this is enough to make this series a pass for them. VERDICT A real catch and a first purchase for most.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Arthur, William. Boston Bruins. ISBN 9781634944885.
––––. New York Rangers. ISBN 9781634944946.
––––. Pittsburgh Penguins. ISBN 9781634944960.
Cain, Harold P. Dallas Stars. ISBN 9781634944908.
––––. Philadelphia Flyers. ISBN 9781634944953.
––––. Vegas Golden Knights. ISBN 9781634944991.
Flynn, Brendan. Detroit Red Wings. ISBN 9781634944915.
––––. Montreal Canadiens. ISBN 9781634944939.
––––. Tampa Bay Lightning. ISBN 9781634944977.
Hanlon, Luke. Toronto Maple Leafs. ISBN 9781634944984.
Kortemeier, Todd. Chicago Blackhawks. ISBN 9781634944892.
McDougall, Chrös. Minnesota Wild. ISBN 9781634944922.
ea vol: 32p. (NHL Teams). North Star Editions/Press Box Books. Aug. 2022. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 3-5 –This series continuation balances team history, evolution, and current day highlights to create a well-rounded look at some of NHL’s biggest teams. Each book follows a similar format with the teams’ histories preceding “Quick Stats” that summarize their pertinent championships, impactful coaches, and all-time record holders. “­Superstar Profile” sections break up the narrative timeline, but do so pleasantly, managing not to jar readers out of the setting. Engaging play-by-play writing boils down each team’s big games into exciting highlight reels that are fast-paced and fun, making readers in the off-season long for the smack of sticks against frozen pucks. With NHL expansion teams still popping up with some frequency, this sport is gaining traction in previously untapped markets, so it’s worth it for libraries to at least pick up teams in their own regions. VERDICT Solid first purchases, especially if your hockey shelves are bare.

Carson, David. Baseball’s Wackiest Mascots. ISBN 9781666353136.
––––. Basketball’s Zaniest Mascots. ISBN 9781666347173.
––––. Football’s Funniest Mascots. ISBN 9781666347180.
––––. Hockey’s Weirdest Mascots. ISBN 9781666347197.
ea vol: 32p. (Sports Illustrated Kids: Mascot Mania!). Capstone/Capstone Press. Aug. 2022. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 3-5 –Players come and go, but mascots (usually) stay the same. Fans who spend their lives rooting for the same team know this to be true and it’s part of what makes mascots such a big part of fandom. The books in this series feature a handpicked list of some of the weirdest, most wonderful mascots in sports. From MLB’s Phillie Phanatic and Bernie the Brewer to NHL’s Youppi and Gritty, pro sports have no shortage of bizarre characters. The basketball and football books in the series include both professional and NCAA mascots, like Benny the Bull and the Fighting Irish ­Leprechaun. Each mascot gets a two-page writeup with stats and fun facts to enthrall readers. Overall, these are easy, engaging reads that will appeal to browsers and curious superfans alike. VERDICT Unique and exciting, this series is a first purchase for all.

James, Ryan. Top College Football ­National Championship Games. ISBN 9781638974857.
––––. Top FIFA Men’s World Cup Finals. ISBN 9781638974864.
––––. Top NBA Finals. ISBN 9781638974833.
––––. Top NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Games. ISBN 9781638974840.
––––. Top Super Bowls. ISBN 9781638974826.
––––. Top World Series. ISBN 9781638974871.
ea vol: 24p. (Top Sports Championships). Crabtree/Seahorse. Sept. 2022. Tr. $27.93.
Gr 3-5 –Following a similar format, each book in this series explains the “why” of the championship series by describing the leagues and how the playing teams are determined. From there, they launch into recollections of memorable games that are so abbreviated, they carry merely the faintest whiff of the great games they wish to relate. The writing itself is clear and illustrative, but the author is only allowed two to three paragraphs to set up and bring home some truly thrilling games—barely enough time to make an impression on readers. While the concept isn’t awful, the execution is poor, with the bare-bones details serving only to leave readers wondering why the effort was even made at all. At this age, readers are hungry for more and won’t be happy with this poor, pasty porridge. VERDICT Not at the top of its game—pass this one by.

Lowe, Alexander. G.O.A.T. Basketball Centers. ISBN 9781728458069.
––––. G.O.A.T. Basketball Point Guards. ISBN 9781728458045.
––––. G.O.A.T. Basketball Power Forwards. ISBN 9781728458052.
––––. G.O.A.T. Football Linebackers. ISBN 9781728458038.
––––. G.O.A.T. Football Quarterbacks. ISBN 9781728458014.
––––. G.O.A.T. Football Running Backs. ISBN 9781728458021.
ea vol: 32p. (Greatest of All Time Players (Lerner ™ Sports)). Lerner. Aug. 2022. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 3-5 –These books feature similar countdown list formats, leading readers through the top 10 G.O.A.T.s for their positions. After a quick description of the qualities an athlete must possess to excel, Lowe launches into the lists, providing a two-page mini-biography for each star. Readers will appreciate that the lists include both “legacy” and contemporary athletes, like Charles Barkley and Giannis Antetokounmpo in G.O.A.T. Power Forwards. The basketball books notably include athletes who identify as male and female. All the books in the series conclude with “Even More G.O.A.T.s” lists of exceptional players and “Your G.O.A.T.” sections, which encourage readers to make their own top 10 lists using solid reasoning for placements. The succinct writing is engaging and good for browsers, but lacks depth for rabid researchers. Overall, it’s a good series for having a little bit on your shelves about a lot of players. VERDICT A fun, though not necessary purchase.

Smith, Elliott. Baseball’s Best ­Traditions and Weirdest Superstitions. ISBN 9781666346558.
––––. Basketball’s Best Traditions and Weirdest Superstitions. ISBN 9781666346770.
––––. Football’s Best Traditions and Weirdest Superstitions. ISBN 9781666346862.
––––. Hockey’s Best Traditions and Weirdest Superstitions. ISBN 9781666346633.
ea vol: 32p. (Sports Illustrated Kids: Traditions and Superstitions). Capstone/Capstone Press. Aug. 2022. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 4-6 –This series is proof positive that it’s only a weird superstition if it doesn’t work! While all sports are built on tradition, perhaps some of the most serious superstitions are in baseball and hockey. From in-game “rules” like avoiding pitchers during a no-hitter to “curses” like the Chicago Cubs’ famous curse of the billy goat, there’s no shortage of finger-crossing in baseball. Hockey has its own unique quirks, like players growing playoff beards and tapping the goalie’s pads for good luck. Basketball and football have their own oddities, both at the collegiate and professional level, like Steph Curry’s curious habit of chewing his mouthguard and the tradition of awe-inspiring battles between HBCU marching bands, most of which are even more highly anticipated than the football games themselves. With fun, engaging writing, this series is a surefire hit for most libraries. VERDICT A winning first purchase.


Upper Middle School to High School

Burling, Alexis. Patagonia. ISBN 9781532198144.
Foran, Racquel. Lululemon Athletica. ISBN 9781532198120.
Jaskulka, Marie. Puma. ISBN 9781532198151.
Mooney, Carla. Nike. ISBN 9781532198137.
Roggio, Sarah. Under Armour. ISBN 9781532198168.
Streissguth, Tom. Adidas. ISBN 9781532198113.
ea vol: 112p. (Sports Brands). ABDO/Essential Library. Sept. 2022. Tr. $39.93.
Gr 6 Up –These thorough histories of the biggest brands in sports apparel have niche appeal. The lifelong rivalry between brothers Rudi and Adi Dassler makes an appearance in both Puma and Adidas, sharing how their family shoe business was split forever over a misunderstanding. The giants often find themselves vying for the bigger share of the sponsorship markets not only among themselves, but with newer brands like Under Armour. Lululemon and Patagonia’s revolutionary marketing approaches allowed them to grow organically without the big-name sponsorships of other athletic wear companies. There is quite a bit of repetition in the books, which doesn’t make them very appealing for pleasure reading, but the abundance of information and source notes give them value for researchers. The writing is solid and age appropriate, if a bit dry. VERDICT An additional purchase with limited use for most collections.

Capstone really was swinging for the fences this time, with winning additions from its Sports Illustrated Kids imprint in the form of “Mascot ­Mania,” “Sports Talk,” and “Traditions and Superstitions.” The series “Let’s Go Fish” (Crabtree) stands out for its thoroughness—rarely do kids’ sports nonfiction titles include costs for picking up the gear and essentials to start playing, and particularly in today’s recessed economy, this is a helpful and kind inclusion by the author. The addition in the series “NHL Teams” (North Star Editions) continue to build on the publisher’s solid sports titles with easy, earnest writing that’s both informative and engaging. For the series that didn’t come through as champions, we have this heartfelt word of support and advice: you live to play another day.

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