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December 7, 2008

Wrestling Sturbridge

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Wrestling Sturbridge

Author: Rich Wallace

Page Length: 133

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Have you ever wanted something so bad you can almost taste it? Victory seems so close but it’s just out of reach? Benny is a member of the championship Sturbridge wrestling team. He wants to so badly to win state. The problem is that his friend Al is number one and no matter how hard he tries he just can’t seem to beat him. But Benny never gives up. Every challenge match he has, he tries to outdo Al. He can feel the drive and he’s determined to win. Can he out match Al? Will the coach even see his true talent before it’s too late?

REVIEW: For wrestling fans, this book is a must. For the rest of us, it’s still an interesting read because there is more depth to the story than just a wrestling match. Victory in wrestling symbolizes Benny’s victories over his life and insecurities. The book also details a mild romance between Kim and Benny and deals lightly with the fact that they are from two different races. I was a little confused by the dad’s habit of stealing things — it’s just almost seemed out of place and totally unnecessary for the book. Overall, the book is compact and the action of preparing for the next big match keeps the reader turning the page. The short descriptive facts between chapters also help the reader get to know Benny better (it develops a kinship with the reader almost as if he is revealing secrets about himself that no one else knows).

AREAS FOR TEACHING: sequence, author’s purpose, character motivations, point of view (Grandma about Kim), cause and effect

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: some mild race issues, under-age drinking, mild sexual references

RELATED BOOKS: Playing Without the Ball, The Roar of the Crowd, Losing Is Not an Option, Perpetual Check, One Good Punch, Emergency Quarterback 



REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor


April 26, 2008

NFL Behind the Scenes

NFL Behind the Scenes

Author: Joe Layden

Page Length: 32

Reading Level: unknown

Genre: Non-fiction

REVIEW: This 32 page book about football is more like a magazine. From the colorful photographs to the informative captions, this piece of reading will grab the attention of most athletic students – especially boys. Also, it is short enough to entice even the most reluctant reader. NFL Behind the Scenes covers almost every aspect of the game – from the very first football game played in 1869 (without helmets) to the 2003 Super Bowl game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders. 

There are even several black and white photographs from the early years of football in America. Page 28 shows a picture of a team of guys warming themselves from the cold on the field with straw. Now the author does an excellent job of covering topics such as training camp, the trainers, media staff, crazy fans, equipment, and coaches. Some of the photographs provided have numbers on them to direct the reader to the appropriate captions. This is helpful.

After reading this text, I learned that Walter Camp is one of the main individuals responsible for bringing football to the forefront of American life. Also, early football players actually played a game that was a combination of football, rugby, and soccer. Some team members during that time even sewed their own uniforms! The author stresses that football is not only a game, but a business. In addition, passion is a key to playing the game well.

I would like to have seen larger captions. Also, the concern with allowing students to read this style of book, is that they might focus only on the photographs and not read any of the words on the page.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: text features, sequence of events (pages 4-9)

RELATED BOOKS: Joe Layden has written many other books just like NFL Behind the Scenes, Amazing But True Sports Stories by Hollander

RELATED WEBSITES: (virtual tour – new Dallas Cowboys stadium) (National Football League official website) (football game with math skills) (Football 101)

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

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