Category Archives: Sports

Tall Story

By Candy Gourlay

Published by David Fickling Books

Copyright © 2010


Not your typical tall tale, but “Tall Story” delivers on the tall in a giant way. Michael Jordan eat your heart out.

Bernardo and Andi are brother and sister, but they haven’t seen each other in 10 years. The reason for this is that Bernardo lives with his Aunt and Uncle in the Philippines, and Andi lives with her mom and dad (Bernardo’s step dad) in London. Bernardo has been waiting for the day that the British government will tell him that it is okay to come and live with his mom in London, while Andi grows up on the other side of the world hoping this long lost brother will come home soon and will like basketball as much as she does.


As Bernardo gets older his wish to go to London gets much more difficult. A strange chain of events has cast him in the role of the local savior, and he worries that if he leaves it will bring doom to his friends and family in the town of San Andres. The sheer weight of this is often too much for Bernardo. Only when he finally gets to London will this weight be lifted for good.


Written from the viewpoint of both Bernardo and Andi, Candy Gourlay has written a story with so many levels that I almost don’t know how to describe this book. While reading it I sometimes lost focus on what the story was about or what the author was really trying to say. Is it about family relationships, miracles, legends, basketball, illness, being different, or etc. There is just so much going on I couldn’t really get a clear message from the story.


That being said the story did hold my attention and was generally enjoyable. I think the thing that I like most about “Tall Story” is that while it is full of sadness Bernardo seems to have such a positive attitude, at least when he isn’t blaming himself for the way things turn out.  There are the death of a mate, a child being left behind, the struggle to be reunited, bullies, sickness, and earthquakes all in one story. There is so much to be depressed about and yet Bernardo comes off as relatively happy, even if conflicted. This book is set in the Philippines and the United Kingdom, and the main characters are big on basketball. This book is definitely worth a read for kids 10 and up who are interested in basketball or foreign countries.


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Filed under Communities, Cultural, Families, Junior Fiction, Multicultural, Myths & Legends, Sports

Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs

By Ron Koertge

Published by Candlewick Press

Copyright © 2010

“Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs,” the sequel to “Shakespeare Bats Cleanup,”  gives new meaning to the phrase “Poetry in Motion” with its fluid use of poetic styles to tell the story of Kevin Boland and his mixed up life of baseball, poetry, grief, and love.

Kevin Boland is a baseball player who, just like his dad, loves to write poetry. However, his friends don’t seem to be too interested in this new passion of his. His girlfriend Mira is especially uninterested in Kevin’s writing talent, the only things on her mind seem to be looking good, saving the planet, and annoying her dad. Sometimes Kevin wonders why he is with Mira considering her apparent disinterest not only in poetry but also in his first love, baseball. But of course his friends happily remind him that it is because she is really cute.

What Kevin soon realizes is that relationships can be confusing and occasionally difficult. His Dad is beginning to date again after the death of his mom, some of classmates are boy/girl crazy, and he meets a girl his age that is into poetry too. He meets Amy at a poetry reading at the Book Bungelow and they hit it off, because they have a shared interest in the written word. This of course doesn’t sit well with Mira, and Kevin has a hard time deciding between the two.

This book is right up my alley. I love baseball. I love poetry. I love the way that Koertge shows not that poetry not only expresses a feeling but also tells a story. In addition, poetry doesn’t have to be serious. The poetry about Kevin’s life is a little more serious, but the monster poetry that Kevin and Amy are working on together are just fun. It is wonderful to show that poetry can be fun.

Though Koertge is in his 70’s he writes the relationships of the young so well. He just seems to have understanding of the language of youth. It isn’t all about slang; it’s about how they think and react. Teens and tweens are constantly falling in and out of love and they can be very dramatic and eccentric. Koertge captures that perfectly, especially with Mira and Becca, however he doesn’t just chalk it up to hormones he gives a nod to the stresses that kids are going under. Some of Koertge’s characters are dealing with fighting parents, death, and bullies. And to be able to express all this in poetic form is just amazing.

This book, and its predecessor, are great books to help spread the joy of poetry with children 11 and up. It introduces readers to various poetic forms without being too stuffy about it, and it tells a story that they will be able to relate to.

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Filed under Elementary/Middle School, Games/Hobbies, Junior Fiction, Loss/Death, Love/Romance, Poetry, Sports

Doubles Troubles

Doubles Troubles

By Betty Hicks

Illustrated by Simon Gane

Published by Roaring Brook Press

Copyright © 2010

Rocky and Henry are doubles partners. Henry is a great tennis player, but he keeps losing because Rocky has a bad serve and backhand. Rocky practices and tries really hard, but tennis isn’t his best game. Henry doesn’t know what to do. He really wants to win but he doesn’t want to give up on Rocky and hurt his feelings. Wanting to win gets the best of Henry though and he is going to regret it. At the same time Henry is going to begin to see what it is like to be the weak link in a doubles equation when he is paired up with Jazz for a history assignment. Jazz is a really good student and Henry is just average, but he tries hard.

This is a great book because it reminds kids that winning isn’t everything, that trying your best does count for something, and that there is nothing better than having good friends. “Doubles Troubles” is just one of many books in the Gym Shorts series by Betty Hicks that fosters the idea of trying your best, sportsmanship, and being a good friend.

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Filed under Friendship, Junior Fiction, Sports