Football fanatic fare. (Sports fiction. 10-14)

DEEP ZONE

From the Football Genius series , Vol. 5

NFL insider Green brings together his two heroes—Ty (Football Hero, 2008) and Troy (Football Champ, 2009)—in this gridiron mystery focused on teen football phenoms.

The action takes place during a seven-on-seven tournament for middle-school athletes held during Super Bowl week. As often happens in Green’s tales, there are bad guys from the mob attempting to gain an illicit edge. Both Ty and Troy are targets of the D’Amico family, which requires that FBI agents play a role in guarding Ty while his brother, professional receiver Thane, recovers from a devastating knee injury. Ty is the featured character for the most part, but both Troy and Tate, a female friend, have a role to play. The football insights are the best part, as both professional games and seven-on-seven play are described in satisfying detail. All the other shenanigans are icing, and fairly non-essential icing at that. None of the fabulous lifestyle of limos, fancy hotels and big houses is hard to believe, but it distances readers from the characters, as do the overblown plot and inept cartoon mobsters. While mention is made of middle-school life, emphasis is on the game, and using real NFL famous names add spice. Acquaintance with the earlier titles is helpful, but Green recaps well enough that it’s not necessary.

Football fanatic fare. (Sports fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-201244-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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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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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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