The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Books about Sports - May 2012

Selected and annotated by Anna Holland

Aronson, Marc, ed. Pick-Up Game: A Full Day of Full Court; ed. by Marc Aronson and Charles R. Smith, Jr. Candlewick, 2011. 176p. Gr. 7-12
Nine short stories written by nine all-star YA authors complete this gritty, funny story of one summer day at the West 4th Street Court in New York City. The stories weave in and out of multiple perspectives, emotions, and narratives—much like the quick, ever-changing streetball players and the game itself.

Aronson, Sarah. Beyond Lucky. Dial, 2011. 256p. Gr. 4-7
Ari Fish believes in luck. He also believes that a rare trading card is the reason for his luck in making starting goalie on his soccer team. But what happens when the card goes missing? Will Ari’s luck run out before for the league championships?

Bowen, Fred. No Easy Way: The Story of Ted Williams and the Last .400 Season; illus. by Charles S. Pyle. Dutton, 2010. 32p. Gr. 2-4
In 1941, Ted Williams hit an unbelievable .406 season record and was well known after as the best hitter in baseball. This picture book tells the story of the most remarkable season in baseball to date. Includes several black-and-white photographs and illustrations that capture a panoramic view of the field.

Brown, Monica. Pelé: King of Scoccer/El Rey del Fútbol; Spanish text by Fernando Gayesky; illus. by Rudy Gutierrez. Rayo/HarperCollins, 2009. 32p. 5-9 yrs
Rudy Gutiérrez is more than a legend. He is Pelé, the King of Soccer, and the first man to score a thousand goals in the history of the sport. This bilingual picture book sport biography offers a richly illustrated characterization and history of the Brazilian soccer star.

Carbone, Elisa. Jump. Viking, 2010. 288p. Gr. 7-10
P.K. decides to escape boarding school and her parents by embarking on a rock-climbing adventure. However, she finds herself with an unusual companion: Critter, who’s hunky, an equally good climber, and newly sprung from the mental ward. But can their journey to conquer new heights and rocks and budding romance escape the police and their parents for much longer? 

Clippinger, Carol, Open Court. Knopf, 2007. 272p. Gr. 6-9
Hall is thirteen and already the jewel of her school’s tennis team. What’s more, recruiters from the respected Bickford Tennis Academy offer her the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to play internationally and win her way to the pros. Hall’s family is eager to make the financial sacrifices, but Hall suddenly isn’t so sure she wants to leave her hometown, her friends, or the cute guy she’s finally caught the attention of. 

Cook, Sally. Hey Batta Batta Swing!: The Wild Old Days of Baseball. Illus. by Ross MacDonald. Simon & Schuster, 2007. 48p. Gr. 3-5
Baseball lore and history galore! Fans of the all-American sport may be surprised to learn about the sport’s early start before jerseys had numbers and when players were traded for something as small as a bag of oysters or prunes. Kids are sure to love the quirky tales about nicknames, team names, stolen plays, and arcane terminology.

Corey, Shana. Mermaid Queen; illus. by Edwin Fotheringham. Scholastic, 2009. 42p. 6-9 yrs
Annette Kellerman revolutionized early twentieth century championship swimming. As a fashion icon, she transformed the future history of women’s swimwear and dove her way onto the silver screen. Sports fans will appreciate Kellerman’s plucky courage and gusto as she casually takes on the challenge to be the first woman to swim the English Channel. The picture book includes a photograph of Kellerman, source and citation notes, and a lengthy concluding note.

Juby, Susan. Another Kind of Cowboy. HarperTeen, 2007. 352p. Gr. 7-12
Alex and Cleo are about as different as can be, but they find they have at least one thing in common: dressage. For Alex, a horse-loving cowboy with natural talent, dressage riding is the next step to mastering the sport. For Cleo, a rich California girl, dressage is punishment from her parents. The two quickly strike up a relationship full of rocky misunderstandings. Cleo is looking for romance, but Alex is not an ordinary cowboy. He struggles to provide friendship to Cleo while coming to terms with his identity as a gay teen.

Kelly, David A. The Fenway Foul-Up; illus. by Mark Meyers. Random House, 2011. 101p. Stepping Stone Books. Gr. 2-4
It is a lucky thing that Kate and her cousin Mike have all-access passes and tickets to the Fenway Ballpark to see the Boston Red Sox play, because there is a mystery afoot. Someone has stolen the star slugger’s baseball bat! And now, the slugger can’t hit anything. Can Kate and Mike save the game?

Konigsberg, Bill. Out of the Pocket. Dutton, 2008. 256p. Gr. 8–12
Bobby Framingham has a secret. Bobby has his eyes set on someday going pro and is already the star quarterback at Durango High School with the hope of several scholarships coming to him soon. But he’s also gay. How can Bobby be a football hero in a sport with no professionally open gay athletes and also be honest about his identity? 

Korman, Gordon. Pop. Blazer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2009. 260p. Gr. 7-10
When new kid Marcus Jordan heads to the park to practice football, he befriends an older man who turns out to be none other than Charlie Popovich, ex-NFL linebacker and the father of Marcus’ school football rival. But what Marcus doesn’t know is that Charlie’s family is covering up the fact that he is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s, brought on by his pro career. Will Marcus learns the truth, will he think football is worth the risk?

Krech, R. W. Love Puppies and Corner Kicks. Dutton, 2010. 224p. R Gr. 5-7
Andrea DiLorenzo is a middle school soccer star whose life can’t get any better. Her parents, however, decide to ruin her life for a year by moving the family to Scotland, where she must face “The Tough Girls Football Club,” a cute soccer player, and the Scottish dialect.  

Mackel, Kathy. Boost. Dial, 2008. 256p. Gr. 7-10.
Savvy and her older sister, Callie, are new in town and determined to excel with their basketball teammates despite some serious physical challenges. For Savvy, the youngest player on her under-eighteen team, she needs to gain muscle to keep from being pushed around on the court. Callie, on the other hand, battles to control her weight in order to keep her position as flier on the cheerleading squad. But what happens when a teammate finds steroids in Savvy’s locker?

Macy, Sue. Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map; illus. by Matt Collins. Holiday House, 2011. 32p. 6–9 yrs.
In 1896, the Stanford University and Berkeley women’s basketball teams shocked everyone by playing in the first women’s intercollegiate game. Told from the perspective of Agnes Morley, the young guard player eager to make history, this picture book proves that ladies are tough. Includes a substantial historical note, resources, and a photograph of the 1896 team.

Maddox, Marjorie. Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems; illus. by John Sandford. Wordsong/Boyds Mills, 2009. Gr. 6-10
National pastime fans, rejoice. Baseball fan and poet Marjorie Maddox writes thirty-eight clever, serious, and jargon-filled poems about the strategy, love, and specifics of the game. Pencil drawings and a picture book layout make this book of poetry imaginative and easy to read.

McCarthy, Meghan. Seabiscuit: The Wonder Horse; written and illus. by Meghan McCarthy. Wiseman/Simon, 2008. 32p. 5-8yrs
Seabiscuit had a history as a racehorse. With one of the worst losing streaks in his day, his career certainly did not reflect that he was the grandson of one of the greatest racehorses to ever live. The wealthy Charles Howard, however, saw something in Seabiscuit that no one else did and trained him to become the horse wonder of the racing world.

Messner, Kate. Sugar and Ice. Walker, 2010. 288p. Gr. 4-7
Thirteen-year-old Claire doesn’t have much of a competitive streak. She enjoys ice-skating on her family pond and shows a natural love and talent for the ice. But when she’s offered a scholarship to train in an elite skating program, she begins to wonder if competitive skating is a dream worth pursuing after all. 

Padian, Maria. Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best. Knopf, 2011. 352p. Gr. 7-10
Henry and Eva are best friends. Henry (short for Henriette) has a passion for tennis, while Eva is a competitive ballerina. They both willingly forego a summer apart in order to each attend the training camps of their dreams but find their friendship tested when Eva’s love for dance threatens her health and Henry must choose between sticking by her best friend or jeopardizing her tennis career.

Peet, Mal. Exposure. Candlewick, 2009. 430p. Gr. 10-12
When soccer star Otello signs a deal with a new South American team in the southern part of the country, he knows his African heritage is likely to raise a ruckus, because of the region’s racist history. What he doesn’t know is that he’s about to fall in love and marry the beautiful pop singer Desmerelda. Their relationship quickly boosts them to celebrity status, causes an outcry of controversy, and leaves them trying to tell their friends from their enemies.

Rosenstock, Barb. Fearless: The Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith; illus. by Scott Dawson. Dutton, 2010. 32p. 5-8 yrs
At a time when most girls weren’t allowed to drive, Louise Smith was not only behind the wheel, but also paving the way for women racers. Meet the lady legend of racecar history. Stylized, slightly blurred paintings and a fast-paced text complete this picture book biography of Smith’s amazing career.

Sharenow, Robert. The Berlin Boxing Club. Harper/HarperCollins. 2011. 400p.  Gr. 7-10
Karl has not thought much about boxing or his Jewish heritage—until Karl’s father makes a deal with Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, to train Karl. But as Max’s fame continues to escalate and demand Nazi sympathies, Karl begins to question his hero’s allegiance. Can Karl protect his family from Nazi violence and still keep his dream of becoming boxing champion like Max?

Stutt, Ryan. The Skateboarding Field Manual. Firefly, 2009. 143p.  Gr. 5-10
Shredders, take note. Glossy, action-shot sequenced photography provides a step-by-step informative guide to basic tricks, slides, and grinds for the new and developing skateboarder. Includes sections on skateboarding history, etiquette, gear, venues, and much more.

Van Draanen, Wendelin. The Running Dream. Knopf, 2011. 352p.  Gr. 6-10
Before a tragic school-bus crash takes Jessica’s leg, running was her life. Now she struggles to walk. Stricken by the absence of one of their teammates, the track team fundraises to buy Jessica a new prosthesis in hopes of allowing her to regain her identity as an athlete.   

Volponi, Paul. The Final Four. Viking, 2012. 256p. Gr.7-12
More than a national title is at stake in this YA novel about basketball’s March Madness underdogs and champions. Meet four players from various backgrounds and with very different ambitions: Malcom, Roko, Crispin, and MJ. Each athlete may have the will to win, but in the end it will take more than a heart for the game to come out on top.    

Wallace, Rich. Sports Camp. Knopf, 2010. 160p. Gr. 5-7
Eleven-year-old Riley Liston is the smallest kid at sports camp. Moreover, he knows he’s the weak link on his team, the Cabin 3 Threshers. Riley’s summer is packed with camp lore, sports galore, and excitement as he competes with his team for the Camp Olympia trophy and has a run-in with the legendary monster turtle Big Joe.

Winter, Jonah. You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!; illus. by Andre Carilho. Schwartz & Wade, 2009. 32p. Gr. 3-5
Dodgers player Sandy Koufax was reputedly one of the greatest lefties to ever have pitched in baseball. Kids will be drawn to more than this picture book’s eye-catching 3D cover, featuring Koufax mid-windup. From baseball fan to player, the story of Koufax’s career from benchwarmer to a force on the field will interest young sports enthusiasts excited by record-breaking feats.