Elem. – Inside Big Events (Series NF)

Kortemeier, Todd, and Josh Anderson. Inside Big Events. The Child’s World, 2023. $24.95 ea. $149.70 set of 6. 31 p. Grades 3-6. 

Inside the Daytona 500: 978-1-503-86515-0.
Inside the NBA. 978-1-503-86517-4.
Inside the Olympics. 978-1-503-86518-1.
Inside the Super Bowl. 978-1-503-86519-8.
Inside the World Cup. 978-1-503-86516-7.
Inside the World Series. 978-1-503-86520-4.

Professional sporting events are a popular topic for many students. The Child’s World has selected six major sporting events and given a basic overview of some of the star athletes, some of the biggest moments in the event, and fast facts. Full-color and historical photographs add a strong interest for all readers. There are critical-thinking questions to help readers deepen their understanding. The book concludes with a glossary, additional resources, source notes, and an index.

THOUGHTS: This series is a good addition to enhance elementary library collections seeking to refresh their sports section.

700s Sports and Recreation

MG – Fox Point’s Own Gemma Hopper

Sprangler, Brie. Fox Point’s Own Gemma Hopper. Alfred A. Knopf, 2023. 978-0-593-42849-8. 248 p. $21.99. Grades 4-8.

Gemma Hopper is trying to keep her life running smoothly, but that is not easy since her mother left. Gemma is in charge of all the household chores as well as looking out for her younger twin brothers while her father works several jobs to make ends meet. Her older brother, Teddy, is a baseball sensation and will be leaving soon to join a baseball league in Florida. It seems as though everyone has forgotten that Gemma also has a love for the sport, and in fact, she is quite talented. She feels overshadowed by her brother. Will baseball be the thing that saves her and her family, or will it destroy everything?

THOUGHTS: This is such a great graphic novel with a focus on family, friendship, and hope. Middle grade students will be drawn to this book.

Graphic Novel

MG/YA – Hoops

Tavares, Matt. Hoops. Candlewick Press. 2023. 978-1-5362-3195-3. 224 pp. $12.99. Grades 4+.

It’s 1970 in Wilkins, Indiana, and Judi Wilson longs to play basketball instead of cheering from the bleachers. Five years later, she’s a cheerleading senior in high school when she hears an announcement that Wilkins Regional High School is going to have a girls’ basketball team! With only eight girls going out for the team, everyone makes the cut. However, the girls don’t have real uniforms, buses to away games, meal money, or equal access to the high school gym. Judi and her teammates present their demands to the Athletic Director, but they face an uphill battle. With some grassroots publicity and the dedicated support of Coach Montez (plus electrical tape for putting numbers on their t-shirts), the “Lady Bears” make it all the way to Indiana’s first-ever girls’ basketball state championship! Do they have what it takes to bring home the trophy? Hoops was inspired by the true story of the 1976 Warsaw High School girls’ basketball team (read the Author’s Note for more details). Matt Tavares’ gentle, retro color palette of brick red, olive green, and turquoise (and orange basketballs, of course!) perfectly situates this story in a particular time and place: Indiana in 1976. It’s full-to-bursting with heart and exciting moments on the court. 

THOUGHTS: Hoops is a stand-out all-ages read with connections to Women’s History Month, March Madness, Title IX, and more!

Graphic Novel    

Elem./MG – Sports Encyclopedias for Kids (Series NF)

Sports Encyclopedias for Kids. Abdo Reference, 2022. $33.00 ea. $132.00 set of 4. Grades 3-8.

Flynn, Brendan. The MLB Encyclopedia. 978-1-532-19690-4.
—. The NBA
Encyclopedia. 978-1-532-19691-1.

—. The NFL Encyclopedia. 978-1-532-19692-8.
McDougall, Chros. The Olympics Encyclopedia. 978-1-532-19693-5.

Following a brief history of the sport, this compact volume packs a comprehensive list of top-ranking basketball players with critical statistics. The format lists the major teams with their greatest players and text features with highlights from that team. Vivid action photographs are spread throughout the readable expository writing. Includes honorable mentions list, all-time top scorers sorted by type of play, glossary, and index. This attractive book appeals to many readers who follow sports.

THOUGHTS: I am no expert on sports, but I do know that when students spy this book on my desk, they perk up and want to know when it will be available for check-out. Fun way to introduce students to lists and using the index to find interesting facts.

796 Sports          Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia

Elem. – Olympics Stars (Series NF)

Olympics Stars Set 3. Abdo, 2022. $22.95 ea. $45.90 set of 2. 32 p. Grades 2-5.

Hewson, Anthony K. Simone Biles. 978-1-532-19739-0.
Martinson, Morgan. Suni Lee. 978-1-532-19740-6.

The first chapter of Suni Lee, “All Around Champ,” launches readers into Suni Lee’s first event–the vault–in the women’s all-around competition at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and documents each event from that moment. The second chapter flashes back to Suni’s childhood in Minnesota with information on her family’s Hmong roots as well as her early years in Gymnastics. Moving forward, the third chapter, documenting Suni Lee’s rise to stardom, shares how her dad was injured helping a neighbor right before her debut at her first senior national championships. Chapter four returns to the Olympics and the response of her community after her historic win. Includes a timeline, glossary, and index.

THOUGHTS: Suni Lee is a well-organized and approachable biography. Each page has photos that complement the text, keeps the reader reading, and encourages browsers to delve into the text as they flip through the book. In particular, Suni’s story of strength under pressure and overcoming challenges will be inspiring to young readers and gymnastics fans. This book and the series are recommended for any library looking for biographies on their subjects.

796 Sports          Hannah J. Thomas, Central Bucks SD

YA – Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice

Smith, Tommie, Derrick Barnes, and Dawud Anyabwile. Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice. Norton Young Readers, 2022. 978-1-324-00390-8 . 208 p. $22.95. Grades 8-12.

In graphic format Tommie Smith shares the story of how he came to stand on the podium during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics as the gold medal winner in the 200-meter sprint. Together with bronze medalist John Carlos, Smith stood wearing black socks, and the two raised their black-gloved fists to protest racial injustices. But long before that pivotal moment, Smith came from a hardworking family of sharecroppers in rural Texas. Seeing their children’s education as an opportunity for a better life, Smith’s parents moved the family and Smith’s speed eventually was noticed, giving him more opportunities than they could have imagined possible. Smith attended schools that were being desegregated and a predominantly white college, facing many life-changing obstacles that shaped him into the activist he became.

THOUGHTS: Showing how great platforms come with great responsibilities, this graphic memoir deserves a place in secondary libraries looking to update their sports and/or nonfiction graphic novel collections.

Graphic Memoir          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD
796.42 Track & Field


Elem./MG – Hardcourt: Stories from 75 Years of the National Basketball Association

Bowen, Fred. Hardcourt: Stories from 75 Years of the National Basketball Association. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2022. 978-1-534-46043-0. 99 p. $19.99. Grades 3+.

Sports writer and popular middle grade author Fred Bowen teams up with illustrator James E. Ransome to present a lush walk through hoops history. Young basketball fans who view Michael Jordan as ancient will enthusiastically expand their knowledge of the sport. Working with 75 years of history, Bowen does a respectable job of selecting individuals, teams, and events to highlight, beginning with a well crafted summary of the game’s creation. Readers will ooh and aah over nuggets of information from the early days of the sport, from players hitchhiking to games, to the development of the 24-second clock in an effort to resuscitate the league. Along the way, the book, divided into four quarters comprised of short, easily digestible chapters, features numerous luminaries, the names fans should know. Red Auerbach, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Dr. J to name just a few, as well as less known but equally important players. But the book does not just dwell in the past; current players such as Stephen Curry are included as well. The picture book sized volume concludes with four pages of league statistics, as well as a comprehensive index. Complementing Bowen’s easy to read prose is Ransome’s artwork. An unusual approach for a sports book, the illustrations leap off the page, conveying the action and excitement of the event, as well as the power and athleticism of the players. The only downside to this approach is the complete lack of captioning, unfortunately leaving readers in the dark as to the identity of the individuals pictured. This is a delightful volume to skim, skip, and browse as well as read cover to cover. 

THOUGHTS: The subject and the writing both should attract middle grade and older readers, but the size of the book may make it a less practical option for older students.

796.323   Basketball            Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Elem. – Chunky

Mercado, Yehudi. Chunky. Katherine Tegan Books, 2021. 978-1-713-75878-5. 199 p. $21.99. Grades 3-6. 

When Hudi was younger he had some health issues which caused him to have his one lung removed. As he gets older, his parents are worried about his health and want him to lose weight and stay healthy, so they set him up with a variety of different sports. These end in Hudi getting injured most of the time. Hudi has a great imagination along with an awesome sense of humor, which help him through most of his sports injuries and endear him to his doctors. Hudi has an imaginary friend that he names Chunky who is his cheerleader throughout the book as Hudi goes through all of these activities.

THOUGHTS: The illustrations are bright and colorful, and the addition of the Spanish is a wonderful addition. There is an author’s note that delves more into the book and explains how some of this book is based on the author’s experiences growing up as a Mexican Jewish child. This is a lovely addition to any middle school collection.

Graphic Novel            Mary McEndree, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

Hudi Mercado doesn’t quite know where he fits in. He is the only Mexican Jewish kid in his neighborhood and, since Hudi suffered a serious medical condition as a child, his parents are always concerned about his health. Or more specifically, his weight. Hudi’s parents push him to try a variety of sports like tennis, soccer, and swimming. Somehow, most of these endeavors end with a trip to the hospital. To help cope, Hudi invents Chunky, an imaginary mascot who is Hudi’s biggest fan. Together, the two of them love drawing and making jokes. With Chunky, Hudi is able to deal with all the demands coming his way from his parents. However, when his dad loses his job and things at home become even more tense, Hudi starts to forget himself and his imaginary cheerleader.

THOUGHTS: Inspired by the author’s childhood, this graphic novel is perfect for middle grade readers who are fans of Jerry Craft. Readers will relate to Hudi’s struggles and laugh alongside him as he finds his place in his world. Expect book 2 two early this summer.

Graphic Novel          Danielle Corrao, Manheim Central SD

Elem. – Finish Strong: Seven Marathons, Seven Continents, Seven Days

McGillivray, Dave. Finish Strong: Seven Marathons, Seven Continents, Seven Days.  Nomad Press, 2021. 978-1-647-41039-1. $16.95. 288 p. Grades K-5.

This story about Dave McGillivray, the Race Director for the Boston Marathon, tells the true tale of his World Marathon Challenge: the challenge to complete seven marathons on seven continents in just seven days! Traveling around the world, children will read how he overcame many obstacles to complete this challenge. Includes McGillivray’s “Dream Big Marathon” for kids, which challenges kids to run, read, and perform acts of kindness.   

THOUGHTS: This is an inspiring story and would be enjoyed by students who love track and cross country racing. The Dream Big “Marathon” is a nice way to show students that fitness, reading, and kindness all contribute to making a whole person.

Biography         Krista Fitzpatrick, Wissahickon Charter School
Picture Book

Elem./MG – Big Shot

Kinney, Jeff. Big Shot (Diary of a Wimpy Kid). Amulet Books, 2021. 978-1-419-74915-5. 217 p. $13.99. Grades 3-6. 

Greg Heffley’s never been much of a joiner or a kid who enjoys hard work and exercise, but his middle school field day earns the winning homeroom a day off school! Student trading, super pumped lunch ladies, and disastrous trips to the gym with his dad are all part of Greg’s field day, but his mom decides afterwards that Greg could use some experience as part of a real team and encourages him to choose a sport to try. Greg, sensing he’ll easily be cut from the team, chooses basketball. Greg’s worst nightmare happens when another team is formed from all the kids who were cut, and Greg is forced to live out the rest of the basketball season on a series of teams doomed for failure. Somehow, Jeff Kinney continues to make hilarious Greg Heffley adventures.

THOUGHTS: Venturing into the sports world with Greg will be sure to give your readers some good laughs. 

Humor          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD