The Book Reviews – Website

August 30, 2009


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Author: Eric Walters

Page Length: 101

Reading Level: 2.9

Genre: Realistic Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Michael “The Moose” is a rising star on his football team. After winning the Division 2 championship game, Michael is ecstatic. However his joy is overshadowed by the fact that his coach, Coach Reeves, has decided to retire. Reeve’s replacement is a hot-shot, smooth-talker named Coach Barnes. Coach Barnes has new plans for his team and high aspirations at success at the Division 1 level.

In a matter of months, the school’s football facilities are totally renovated and the boys are placed under personal fitness guidance from a trainer named Tony. However, Tony not only provides the boys suggestions on how to improve their workouts on the new equipment, he persuades many of them to begin taking steroids.

Michael eventually begins to notice the effects of his steroids use (ie. acne, mood-swings, violence at home). The steroid usage at the school comes to a peak when Coach Reeves suddenly appears to explain that Coach Barnes and Tony have been taken into custody for their role in steroid usage/sales. Coach Reeves re-assumes the role of head coach and begins to repair the physical and emotional damage of his football team. Michael regrets his involvement in the steroid usage, while Coach Reeves expresses his faith that Michael will get beyond this dark chapter in his life.

REVIEW: I enjoyed this book. The comparisons between Coach Reeves and Coach Barnes are quite evident. The subject matter of steroids may be a little much for some, however there are several real world examples of sports players engaging in such illegal activity both at the professional level and amateur level. One such sport, Major League Baseball, has been in the news on countless occasions.  

I have found that many male students enjoy this book simply for the fact that it is about football. The addition of the steroids topic, brings the action and interest to another level. A discussion on the negative effects of steroids might prove beneficial. This book may even supplement a lesson in a health class.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: cause and effect, characterization, voice, dialogue

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: The topic of steroid usage – especially in a high school setting may be inappropriate for some.

RELATED BOOKS: No Problem by Gaetz

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: “Any Given Sunday” (1999)


REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

February 28, 2008

No Problem

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No Problem

Author: Dayle Campbell Gaetz

Page Length: 87

Reading Level: 2.2

Genre: Realistic Fiction


PLOT SUMMARY: Curt is a high school student facing the pressures of academics, work, girls, friendship, and his parents. Curt is a talented baseball pitcher; his father dreams of Curt making it to the big leagues. Having almost made it to the major leagues himself, Curt’s dad puts pressure on him to achieve perfection and dedicate himself completely to the sport. Curt tires of the constant criticism and pressure. His coach notices him tending his arm and offers a bottle of muscle relaxers to take only when he really needs them. Curt’s world begins a downward spiral. Under extreme pressure, he begins to take the pills to sleep or relax. While working his part-time job, he meets and becomes enamored with Leah, a girl who is herself struggling with an issue (an alcoholic father). He falls for Leah but finds himself pursued relentlessly by Rachel, an older, flirtatious girl. Rachel offers Curt a ride home and before he knows it, he has taken his first hit of cocaine. As Curt’s addiction grows, his world falls apart. Coach takes him out the game and he storms off the field. He alienates his parents and his friends. Leah finds about his time with Rachel and his drug habit. Mom and dad are suspicious. A confrontation is coming. A choice has to be made. Will Curt come clean about his drug habits and seek help or will his life spin further out of control?


REVIEW: This story follows the traditional ORCA book format. The sentences are simple, the chapters short, and the subject level is high interest. As a reader, I dislike how briefly such important and vast subjects are touched upon and dismissed.  Even though some students are lower level readers, they can appreciate the depth and emotional dimensions of the issues presented in these books. I wish that they delved a little deeper and really examined the causes and effects of such issues.


AREAS FOR TEACHING: These books would work well for independent reading. In addition, teachers could have students analyze the causes and effects of Curt’s drug use and addiction. Students will likely be able to relate to many of the issues addressed in these novels. 




REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor


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