So . . .
Are You Ready for Some Football?
It’s Super Bowl Week and football is the talk of the country. New Hope’s library is talking football, too, and this week’s hot reads are so big that they require TWO posts! Today’s post spotlights picture books and novels featuring the boys of fall. Tomorrow, check out some great books about real-life football stars, men who are heroes both on and off the field.
Football in Picture Books
By My Brother’s Side by Tiki and Ronde Barber and illustrated by Barry Root
NFL professional football players, Tiki and Ronde Barber have always been each other’s best friend. Together from the start, the twin brothers might not have been the strongest or the tallest players on the field, but they were fast and worked hard at what they loved. And they loved sports, especially football. Then one day Tiki badly hurt his knee in a biking accident, and he was sure he’d never be able to play football again. Their mother had always told them, “You are each other’s best friends. Stick together, believe in yourselves, and you can do anything.” The brothers kept her words in their hearts and never gave up.
In By My Brother’s Side and its picture book sequels Teamates and Game Day, the Barbers share how the values of family, hard work, and determination helped to make them champions both as boys and in the National Football League.
T is for Touchdown: A Football Alphabet by Brad Herzog and illustrated by Mark Braught
T is for Touchdown is a picture book for football fans of all ages. The younger fans in the family will love the beautiful illustrations and short rhymes for each letter of the alphabet, while older fans will enjoy the informative text that accompanies each letter providing factual information about America’s most popular sport.
Early Reader Books Featuring Football
Kick, Pass, and Run by Leonard Kessler
Rabbit was the first one to hear it.
Duck was the first one to see it.
Cat was the first one to feel it.
But what is it? It turns out to be a football, and it leads the animal friends to discover the exciting game of football. Young sports fans just beginning to read on their own have cheered Kick, Pass, and Run for over thirty years. Now, Mr. Kessler has updated the illustrations for a new generation of football fans.
Football in Fiction
Kickoff! (series) by Tiki and Ronde Barber with Paul Mantell
After writing several picture books describing their lives as PeeWee football players, twins Tiki and Ronde Barber decided to try writing some longer stories for their young fans. In the first book in the series, Kickoff!, the twins are ready to graduate from the Peewee League and hit the field as starting players for the Hidden Valley Eagles, the local junior high team. But junior high is a lot bigger than elementary school and the competition for starting spots is stiff, and seniority rules. If Tiki and Ronde make it past tryouts and cuts, will they get the chance to play, or will they have to spend the season watching from the bench with the other seventh graders?
Tiki and Ronde discuss Kickoff!
If you read and enjoy Kickoff!, be sure to check out the rest of the books in the series: Go Long!, Wild Card, Red Zone, Goal Line, and End Zone.
Football Genius by Tim Green
Former Atlanta Falcons’ defensive end, Tim Green has authored some of the most popular football books in the New Hope Library. Football fans from third to sixth grade love his Football Genius novels. Troy White lives with his mom and is a pretty good kid. Troy is frustrated, though, because he is also a pretty good athlete and he’s not getting to play much on his football team. His favorite pro team, the Falcons, aren’t doing so well either until Troy shares his secret talent. He can predict football plays before they happen! There are some people associated with the team that don’t appreciate Troy’s gift and decide to take it out on Troy’s mom who just happens to work for the team. Can Troy help his team and save his mom’s job? Read Football Genius and find out. Other books in the series include: Football Hero, Football Champ, Deep Zone and The Big Time.
Unstoppable by Tim Green
Another great book by former pro player Tim Green, Unstoppable is so much more than a typical football novel. Bigger and stronger than most eighth grade boys, Harrison Johnson hasn’t had an easy life. Trapped in the foster care system, he’s been unlucky in his foster parents and been forced to work for everything he has ever had. Harrison has never had an opportunity to pursue his dream of playing football until suddenly, it seems that his luck changes. Not only is Harrison placed in a loving foster home, but his new foster dad is the junior high football coach! Harrison’s determination to succeed, his physical attributes, and his natural talent make him unstoppable on the football field. Everything seems to be going Harrison’s way. Will Harrison’s new found good luck hold or will Harrison have to prove yet again that he is unstoppable?
Tim speaks with Jeffrey Keith, the real life inspiration for the character of Harrison in Unstoppable.
Game Changers by Mike Lupica
Ben McBain is every football team’s dream player. He’s a jack-of-all-trades guy that can handle almost any position. When the game is on the line, Ben’s number is the one being called for the final play. Ben wants to be the starting quarterback; he’s got the talent. There’s just a couple of obstacles standing in his way. Everyone except Ben believes he isn’t big enough to play quarterback and the current starter at the position is the coach’s son.
Shawn O’Brien looks the part. He has been groomed by his father, a former professional quarterback. But despite his size and arm strength, Shawn is struggling.
Ben is torn between being a good teammate and going after his own dream. As Ben finds out, Shawn isn’t the easiest person to help. And when Ben gets an unexpected opportunity, the entire game will change for the both of them.
Loosely based on the experiences of NFL legend Doug Flutie (most famous for “The Pass” in the clip below thrown in 1984 in the Boston College – Miami game, a real life game changer) , this book is all about the importance of pursuing your dreams regardless of the obstacles in your path.
The Underdogs by Mike Lupica
Will Tyler may not be the biggest running back around, but no one can touch him when it comes to hitting the hole and finding the end zone. And no one can match his love of the game. When Will has a football in his hand, life can’t touch him–his dad isn’t so defeated, his town isn’t so poor, and everyone has something to cheer for. All of which does him no good if the football season is canceled. With no funding for things like uniforms and a well-maintained playing field, with every other family moving to find jobs, there just isn’t enough money or players for a season. It’s up to Will to rally the town and give everyone a reason to believe . . .