I am all about series books these days. Series help kids become fluent. Understand characters. Internalize story structure. Get to know authors. Support those kids who struggle with what to read next. Yes, it's true, they are not always "great literature," but I can expose kids to great books/authors during read aloud.
Last week in the library, I came across Mike Lupica's COMEBACK KIDS series. Or actually, one of my boys came across it for me. B came running up to me during our Thursday book checkout. "Hey, Ms. W., look! A football book! You like football! You should read this one?" And so this weekend, I did. (Warning- the copyright is 2007, so people will probably wonder why I am reviewing a book that is not new.
Brainiac Scott Parry is the new kid in town. He becomes friends with Chris Conlan, the quarterback of the football team. Chris is the golden boy on the field, but in the classroom, it's a whole different story.
I loved lots of things about this book. Scott is not a football superstar. He is clumsy and uncoordinated. He drops passes, misses tackles, and never makes it onto the field in a game. I love that those little guys who stand on the sidelines week after week after week can see that they are not alone.
And unfortunately, Coach Dolan resembles many coaches I have known. Winning is all. I have watched my own sons, who idolize their coaches, struggle to understand the motives of these "heroes" in their lives. I love that this book provides a forum for kids to analyze adults with less than stellar motives.
I also love Scott's parents. Scott's dad was a football star, but he doesn't push his son, or get upset about the fact that his son is not a star. Instead he praises his perseverance, encourages him to continue, supports him at practices. That's the kind of sports parent I want to see.
I also love that there is not a "girlfriend" element in this book. I'm not excited about the boyfriend/girlfriend thing in fourth grade. I don't want want my students thinking about that. (And yeah, realistically I know it happens, but I am one of those old fashioned gals who thinks nine and ten year olds are a little too young for that). I'm glad, then, that this is a book focuses on the friendship between Chris and Scott.
I am anxious to check out some of the other books in this series…