An enjoyable if unfocused walk through football history.

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

THE FIGHT FOR THE TOP SPOT

From the Spectacular Sports series

A hodgepodge of football history pivots around the controversial ranking systems.

As long as there are fans, there will be unhappiness with the final rankings in football’s polls. But Doeden is certainly right on two points: the Bowl Championship Series was hopelessly flawed by positive point differentials, and the new College Football Playoff looks likely to “crown a single, undisputed champ each season.” Yet the top spot still doesn’t guarantee a great game, just as many Super Bowls have been duds. Doeden senses this, and so his book wanders about somewhat, hitting on great title games but also taking a look into the evolution of the game—including safety concerns, then and now—and the building of dynasties, such as the strings put together by Alabama and Notre Dame. Doeden has fun with celebrated plays, highlighting perhaps the most famous of all: Roy “Wrong-Way” Riegels’ dash to the wrong end zone, incurring a two-point safety that proved to be the losing margin in the 1929 Rose Bowl. Doeden ends on two critical issues, both altogether unrelated to championships: the concern about brain injuries and the rules regarding player compensation. As Doeden notes, football is headed for some big changes, and not just in how the champ is crowned.

An enjoyable if unfocused walk through football history. (Nonfiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-1897-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Without that frame, this would have been a fine addition to the wacked-out summer-camp subgenre.

I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS

Survival camp? How can you not have bad feelings about that?

Sixteen-year-old nerd (or geek, but not dork) Henry Lambert has no desire to go to Strongwoods Survival Camp. His father thinks it might help Henry man up and free him of some of his odd phobias. Randy, Henry’s best friend since kindergarten, is excited at the prospect of going thanks to the camp’s promotional YouTube video, so Henry relents. When they arrive at the shabby camp in the middle of nowhere and meet the possibly insane counselor (and only staff member), Max, Henry’s bad feelings multiply. Max tries to train his five campers with a combination of carrot and stick, but the boys are not athletes, let alone survivalists. When a trio of gangsters drops in on the camp Games to try to collect the debt owed by the owner, the boys suddenly have to put their skills to the test. Too bad they don’t have any—at all. Strand’s summer-camp farce is peopled with sarcastic losers who’re chatty and wry. It’s often funny, and the gags turn in unexpected directions and would do Saturday Night Live skits proud. However, the story’s flow is hampered by an unnecessary and completely unfunny frame that takes place during the premier of the movie the boys make of their experience. The repeated intrusions bring the narrative to a screeching halt.

Without that frame, this would have been a fine addition to the wacked-out summer-camp subgenre. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8455-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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An entertaining tale of baseball, family and loyalty.

GAME SEVEN

Sixteen-year-old Julio Ramirez Jr. dreams of being a junior Nacional and playing for Cuba against the best young players around the world.

Baseball is “practically a religion” in Cuba, and Julio’s father was like a Cuban god, an all-star pitcher for the Cuban National Team. Now, having defected, he’s a star for the Miami Marlins. But instead of pride, Julio feels resentment toward his father for abandoning his family to a life of poverty while he, the great El Fuego, lives the high life in Miami with his multimillion-dollar contract. Moreover, Julio’s baseball dreams may not come true: How can he be trusted to leave the country when his father defected; won’t he do the same? So Julio defects too, and in a tense and slightly comic scene, he drives to Florida in a green ’59 Buick that’s been converted into a boat. Julio’s reconciliation with his father is handled deftly in its poignant awkwardness, and baseball action is appropriately exciting, though the notion that Julio is allowed to hang out with his father during Game 7 of the World Series is seriously implausible. Volponi wisely shies away from a tidy, inspirational ending but does leave room for hope for reconciliation.

An entertaining tale of baseball, family and loyalty. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-78518-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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