Soccer fans will get a kick out of the game-day action in this straightforward series opener.

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BENCHWARMERS

From the Benchwarmers series , Vol. 1

An all-boys soccer team is put to the test when a talented girl wants to join their ranks.

Jeff Michaels is excited to learn that his middle school will now be offering sports teams for sixth graders in the fall: field hockey for girls and soccer for boys. When his female classmate Andrea “Andi” Carillo shows up for soccer tryouts, he’s impressed by her skill on the field. Others, however, are upset and even angry that she’s attempting to join the team. When Andi is unjustly excluded by a disgruntled coach, Jeff and Andi reach out to the media to pressure him into letting her on the team. Andi grapples for playing time and soon proves her strength on and off the field, but the team is still fractured by huge disagreements over Andi and even bigger egos. The team will have to learn to work together to reach their goal of winning the conference title. Feinstein includes detailed play-by-play of the middle school soccer matches that will be thrilling for soccer buffs but less exciting for the casual reader. Andi’s grit and refusal to back down in the face of sexism are inspirational and reflect the real challenges facing student athletes today. It is mentioned briefly that one soccer teammate is Jewish and two are black; other characters are assumed white.

Soccer fans will get a kick out of the game-day action in this straightforward series opener. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-31203-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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