A memorable and thought-provoking work of sportswriting that transcends the excitement of championship games.




From the Spectacular Sports series

Although the Super Bowl is at the hub of Doeden’s story, he also follows the evolution of professional football from mud bath to cultural institution and beyond.

It wasn’t until the 1920s that the sport rose above the status of Midwestern semipastime. It was during that decade, Doeden explains, that the owners of the 11 professional teams created what was to become the National Football League. Of equal importance, writes Doeden, a championship game was established. It didn’t matter that it was held on a field that was 20 yards short “and hadn’t been properly cleaned after a circus had been in town.” Still, “it didn’t take the league long to discover that playoff games made a lot of money.” Doeden easily negotiates all the brouhaha surrounding the upstart American Football League and the inevitable path to a clash between the two leagues. Sidebars complement the accounts of great contests, memorable plays, and halftime extravaganzas (tactfully dodging the wardrobe malfunction). Doeden doesn’t mince words when it comes to chronic traumatic encephalopathy: “A 2016 study showed that 40 percent of retired NFL players showed some sign of brain injury.” His big question is equally frank: “How far can the rule changes go before the game itself stops resembling the game that fans love?”

A memorable and thought-provoking work of sportswriting that transcends the excitement of championship games. (Nonfiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-2754-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012).


A memoir of the first 14 years in the life of Australian Robert Hoge, born with stunted legs and a tumor in the middle of his face.

In 1972, Robert is born, the youngest of five children, with fishlike eyes on the sides of his face, a massive lump in place of his nose, and malformed legs. As baby Robert is otherwise healthy, the doctors convince his parents to approve the first of many surgeries to reduce his facial difference. One leg is also amputated, and Robert comes home to his everyday white, working-class family. There's no particular theme to the tale of Robert's next decade and a half: he experiences school and teasing, attempts to participate in sports, and is shot down by a girl. Vignette-driven choppiness and the lack of an overarching narrative would make the likeliest audience be those who seek disability stories. However, young Robert's ongoing quest to identify as "normal"—a quest that remains unchanged until a sudden turnaround on the penultimate page—risks alienating readers comfortable with their disabilities. Brief lyrical moments ("as compulsory as soggy tomato sandwiches at snack time") appeal but are overwhelmed by the dry, distant prose dominating this autobiography.

An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28775-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A splendid volume for young adventurers.



Based on her work with middle-school students, Long offers lessons on how to stay healthy and out of trouble while awaiting rescue, the same lessons taught to adults in her survival classes.

Her matter-of-fact, no-nonsense tone will play well with young readers, and the clear writing style is appropriate to the content. The engaging guide covers everything from building shelters to avoiding pigs and javelinas. With subjects like kissing bugs, scorpions, snow blindness and “How going to the bathroom can attract bears and mountain lions,” the volume invites browsing as much as studying. The information offered is sometimes obvious: “If you find yourself facing an alligator, get away from it”; sometime humorous: Raccoons will “fight with your dog, steal all your food, then climb up a tree and call you bad names in raccoon language”; and sometimes not comforting: “When alligators attack on land, they usually make one grab at you; if they miss, you are usually safe.” But when survival is at stake, the more information the better, especially when leavened with some wit. An excellent bibliography will lead young readers to a host of fascinating websites, and 150 clipart-style line drawings complement the text.

A splendid volume for young adventurers. (index not seen) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56976-708-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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