A Cinderella theme plays out for middle school football fans in this second book in the Home Team series.
The same buddies are back: Jack, the guy star; Cassie, the girl star; Dominican Gus, representing diversity; and Teddy, the formerly chubby newbie. Having embraced athletics for the first time in his life, Teddy has not only succeeded in making it to the Little League World Series as catcher in series opener The Only Game (2015), but is now trying out for wide receiver, though he’s never played football before. The position calls for strength, speed, and height, but Teddy’s main assets are his hands, or “mitts.” Detailed descriptions of games and keen insights into players’ minds will satisfy sports fans, but they also come off as a tad unrealistic, given these same pals (and indeed, the whole town) were obsessed with baseball in the first book. While there’s plenty of action on the field, there is some action off, including Teddy’s rejection of his father, who left when he was younger and is now back trying to be father and coach, along with a subplot about a beloved music teacher whose program is in danger of being cut. Most satisfying are the camaraderie among the four, their sports chatter, and their dedication to the sport.
For football fans, what’s not to like? (Fiction. 8-12)