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THE BALL HOGS by Rich Wallace


Kickers #1

by Rich Wallace & illustrated by Jimmy Holder

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: June 8th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-375-85754-6
Publisher: Knopf

A little light on plot, this new series designed for middle-grade readers focuses on soccer skills and sportsmanship and is full of play-by-play action. Nine-year-old Ben is the third-person focus through which readers meet the players. In the series opener, the coed team gathers and learns the basic skills from Coach Patty. Tensions rise and games are lost because Mark and Ben, both highly competitive, refuse to pass the ball. Eventually, Ben realizes that their best chance of winning is working together. Number two in the series, Fake Out (ISBN: 978-0-375-85755-3; PLB: 978-0-375-95755-0, coming in August 2010), begins where the first leaves off, starting mid-action. Ben’s interest in the game becomes an obsession. He mopes and barks at family and friends when they lose. The players practice fancy footwork and look toward the playoffs, and Ben gradually understands the importance of focus and inner strength. Each book closes with a list of practical soccer tips. Holder’s simple sketches complement the straightforward narration, which will guide, if not inspire, maturing soccer players. (Fiction. 7-10)