Do you know a middle-grade kid who’d rather run than read? Maybe one of these action-packed sports stories will be a winner.
The Wild Soccer Bunch by Joachim Masannek. When the last of the snow has finally melted, soccer season starts! Kevin the Star Striker and The Wild Bunch rush to their field. They have found that Mickey the bulldozer and his gang, theUnbeatables, have taken over. Kevin and his friends challenge the Unbeatables to the biggest game of their lives. Can the Wild Bunch defeat the Unbeatables, or lose their field of dreams forever? Can they do what no team has done before? Lots of action will hook reluctant readers, plus it’s a series that might really get a soccer fan reading.
Storm Mountain by Tom Birdseye. Impossible! Suicidal! That’s thirteen-year-old Cat’s reaction to herimpulsive, irrepressible cousin Ty’s harebrained scheme to spread the ashes of their late fathers at the summit of the same treacherous mountain that claimed both their lives. But when Ty sets off on his own–stealing her dog and her father’s ashes–Cat is forced to follow against her better judgement. Things deteriorate quickly. Avalanches, dangerous glacial crevasses, and a blinding blizzard force Cat to put all her mountaineering knowledge to work if they are to survive. This gripping wilderness survival story is lightened by humor and made truly memorable by the young protagonists, whose struggles help mend their fractious relationship and strengthen the bond formed by shared tragedy.
The Rivalry by John Feinstein. Teen sportswriters Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson are thrilled to be covering “America’s Game.” The Black Knights of Army and the Midshipmen of Navy have met on the football field since 1890, and it’s a rivalry like no other, filled with tradition. But this year, the match-up is also filled with intrigue. For weeks, Stevie and Susan Carol have been spending time at Annapolis and West Point, getting to know the players, and coaches. And the secret service agents. Since the president will be attending the game, security will, of course, be tighter than tight. As the game draws nearer Stevie and Susan Carol can tell that the agents are getting tenser. But as usual when Stevie and Susan Carol cover a big event–nothing is quite as it seems, and the coaches aren’t the only ones calling plays… Fans of this mystery will be pleased to read Feinsteins other books.
The Boy Who Saved Baseball by John Ritter. Tom Gallagher is in a tight spot. The fate of the Dillontown team rests on the outcome of one baseball game, winner take all. If Tom’s team loses, they lose their field too. But how can they possibly win? Just when everything seems hopeless, a mysterious boy named Cruz de la Cruz rides into town and claims to know the secret of hitting. Not to mention the secrets of Dante Del Gato, Dillontown’s greatest hitter ever. Since he walked away from the game years ago, Del Gato hasn’t spoken a word to anyone. But now he might be Tom’s only hope for saving his hometown. From the award-winning author of Over the Wall and Choosing Up Sides comes this imaginative tale of one boy’s struggle to preserve the spirit of the game he loves.
Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams. Cam O’Mara, grandson and younger brother of bull- riding champions, is not interested in partaking in the family sport. Cam is a skateboarder, and perfecting his tricks — frontside flips, 360s — means everything until his older brother, Ben, comes home from Iraq, paralyzed from a brain injury. What would make a skateboarder take a different kind of ride? And what would get him on a monstrosity of a bull named Ugly? If Cam can stay on for the requisite eight seconds, will the $15,000 prize bring hope and a future for his big brother? Readers will love this book that combines two sports in one story!
Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta. Welcome to Moundville, where it’s been raining for longer than Roy McGuire has been alive. Most people say the town is cursed—right in the middle of their big baseball game against rival town Sinister Bend, black clouds crept across the sky and it started to rain. That was 22 years ago . . . and it’s still pouring. Baseball camp is over, and Roy knows he’s in for a dreary, soggy summer. But when he returns home, he finds a foster kid named Sturgis sprawled out on his couch. As if this isn’t weird enough, just a few days after Sturgis’s arrival, the sun comes out. No one can explain why the rain has finally stopped, but as far as Roy’s concerned, it’s time to play some baseball. It’s time to get a Moundville team together and finish what was started 22 years ago. It’s time for a rematch. Another great baseball book. Well, it is baseball season!
I hope your favorite athletes enjoy giving their muscles a rest while reading these sporty stories.
Sydney Salter was always, seriously, always picked last for teams in PE. She’s the author of Jungle Crossing, My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters, and Swoon At Your Own Risk which does feature some pretty great skateboarding!
From the Mixed-Up Files is the group blog of middle-grade authors celebrating books for middle-grade readers. For anyone with a passion for children’s literature—teachers, librarians, parents, kids, writers, industry professionals— we offer regularly updated book lists organized by unique categories, author interviews, market news, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a children's book from writing to publishing to promoting.