Middle-grade boys will welcome the latest installment of this popular sports series, this time featuring football.
In the third entry in the 4 for 4 series, the group of youngsters readers met in Top of the Order (2009) and Eyes on the Goal (2010) are back, and this time their focus is the turbulent world of middle-school football. Now that they are sixth graders, Jackson Kennedy worries about all the things they have to get used to, from chaos on the school bus to challenging teachers and subjects in their classrooms: “We’re not going to be stuck with one boring teacher.” “No, now we’re going to have lots of boring teachers,” Gig says. Jackson and Gig have been best friends since kindergarten, and now they have no classes together, something particularly difficult as Gig is still having trouble coping with his father’s deployment to Afghanistan. Jackson’s and Diego’s mothers are concerned about the dangers of football, potentially threatening their ability to play the game they love, and they almost lost their friend Isaac to another school. As with the others in the series, there is a nice balance between the sports action and the portrayal of young people navigating the difficulties of growing up both at home and at school.
Realistic characters, believable dialogue and a genuine feel for the rhythms and issues of middle-schoolers make this a satisfying addition to a solid middle-grade set. (Fiction. 8-12)