The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Let's Get Physical!: Summertime Stories of Sports and Recreation - June 2014

Selected and annotated by Emily Bayci


Almond, David. The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas. Candlewick, 2013. 234p. Gr. 4-6.
Stanley Potts’ Uncle Ernie has a strange obsession with fish that gets cruel, causing Stan to leave. His journey takes many unique and exciting turns, including meeting the legendary Pancho Pirelli, who swims in a tank full of piranhas. Stan must decide if that is the path he wants to take.

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 but funny snapshot of one summer day at the West 4th Street basketball court in New York City. The stories weave in and out of multiple perspectives, emotions, and narratives—much like the quick and shifting players in the game itself.

Bildner, Phil. The Unforgettable Season: The Story of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and the Record-Setting Summer of ’41. Putnam, 2011. 32p. Gr. 3-5.
The summer of 1941 was a record-setting summer, with Red Sox player Ted Williams’ unmatched .406 season and the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. This book cuts directly to the scene of the momentous summer during a time when America was on the cusp of WWII and looking for a reason to be happy.

Borrick, Benson. A Passion for Victory: The Story of the Olympics in Ancient and Early Modern Times. Knopf, 2012. 143 p. Gr. 6-9.
This narrative tells the story of the Olympics from the barefoot races of 8th century BC through underwater obstacle courses in the 20th century to modern-day dramas. The history is filled with personal stories, profiles of athletes, and recaps of important events.

Brown, Monica. Pelé: King of Soccer/El Rey del Fútbol; Spanish text by Fernando Gayesky; illus. by Rudy Gutierrez. Rayo/HarperCollins, 2009. 32p. 5-9 yrs.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento 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 and sports biography provides a richly illustrated characterization and history of the Brazilian soccer star.

Carbone, Elisa. Jump. Viking, 2010. 288p. Gr. 7-10.
P.K. escapes boarding school and her parents by embarking on a rock-climbing adventure. She finds herself with an unusual companion: Critter, a good-looking, talented climber who’s fresh out of a mental hospital. The question is: how long will their adventure in the rocks dodge the police and their parents?

Corey, Shana. Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam her Way to Fame, Fortune, & Swimsuit History! Scholastic, 2009. 42p. 5-9 yrs.
Annette Kellerman was a frail girl who dreamed of becoming a graceful ballerina. She confronted a crippling illness to become a record-setting athlete who revolutionized the sport of swimming for women, a movie star who invented water ballet, and a fashion revolutionary who modernized the swimsuit.

Crossan, Sarah. The Weight of Water. Bloomsbury, 2013. 240p. Gr. 6-9.
Twelve-year-old Kasienka and her mother have immigrated to Coventry, England from Poland, searching for Kasienka's father. Everyone is unfriendly except for an African neighbor and a boy Kasienka meets at the swimming pool, her only refuge from an intimidating new society.

Dessen, Sarah. Along for the Ride. Viking, 2009. 384p. Gr. 7-10.
Auden impulsively goes to stay with her father, stepmother, and new baby sister the summer before she starts college. She relives the trauma of her parents’ divorce, while making new friends and experiencing things she missed in her youth like dating and learning to ride a bike.

Fucile, Tony. Let’s Do Nothing! Candlewick, 2009. 40p. 4-7 yrs.
Frankie and Sal are bored after having already done everything—from playing sports to drawing pictures and baking cookies. For their next adventure, the boys decide to do nothing at all for ten entire seconds. Hilarity and mischief ensue in the boys’ imaginary adventures of reverse recreation.

Harper, Jessica. Underpants on My Head. Putnam, 2009. Gr. 1-3.
Cleo and her family go on vacation, where they experience a rare August snowstorm while hiking on Mt. Baldy. The chaos that ensues seems as unlikely as wearing underwear on their heads, but it still brings this family closer together.

Henkes, Kevin. My Garden. Greenwillow, 2010. 32p. 3-6 yrs.
A young female narrator dreams of a fantastic backyard garden complete with color-changing flowers, jellybean bushes, and hundreds of butterflies. This makes the task of working in the garden with her mother much more exciting.

Kelley, Jane. Nature Girl. Random House, 2010. 256p. Gr. 4-7.
Megan experiences the worst summer of her life when her parents drag her to a cabin in Vermont for vacation. She finds herself alone with her dog on the Appalachian Trail, walking 30 miles along the path to prove herself to her family and friends.

Kirby, Jessi. Moonglass. Simon, 2011. 240p. Gr. 7-10.
Anna must move to a seaside national park in Orange County with her father. Not only must she adjust to a new high school, but she also must confront the memory of her mother’s death, as her mom drowned when Anna was only seven years old.

Macy, Sue. Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way). National Geographic, 2011. 96p. Gr. 4-8.
Take a look at women’s history while riding a bicycle, seeing how women used it to work toward gender equity. The scrapbook-style pictures and humorous narration give readers a quirky depiction about how the bicycle changed history.

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 spend a summer apart to 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 and jeopardizing her tennis career.

Phelps, Michael. How To Train With A T. Rex And Win 8 Gold Medals. Simon, 2009. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
Michael Phelps became an international sensation after winning a record-breaking eight gold medals at the 2008 Bejing Olympics. In this picture book, Phelps explains the mind-boggling statistics of his years of training in terms young kids can understand.

Proimos, James. The Best Bike Ride Ever. Dial, 2012. 32p. 4-7 yrs.
Bonnie O'Boy really wants a bicycle, but when she gets one, she forgets an important part of bike riding, stopping. Bonnie proceeds to ride it over, on, and through a variety of obstacles and situations, including a jaunt over an enormous elephant and a trip up the Statue of Liberty.

Rosenstock, Barb. Fearless: The Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith; illus. by Scott Dawson. Dutton, 2010. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
During 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. Stylized, slightly blurred paintings and a fast-paced text complete this picture book biography of Smith’s legendary career.

Runton, Andy. Owly & Wormy: Bright Lights & Starry Nights. Atheneum, 2012. 40p. 4-7 yrs.
On a camping trip to study stars in the night sky made frightening by the loss of nightlights, Owly and Wormy make new friends. They learn that it is okay to be scared, but being brave can have some marvelous results.

Sharenow, Robert. The Berlin Boxing Club. Harper/HarperCollins, 2011. 400p. Gr. 7-10.
Karl has not thought much about boxing nor his Jewish heritage—until his father enlists Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, to train Karl. As Max’s fame escalates and demands Nazi sympathies, Karl questions his hero’s allegiance. Can Karl protect his family from Nazi violence and still keep his dream of becoming a boxing champion like Max?

Spinelli, Ellen. A Big Boy Now. Harper/HarperCollins, 2012. 32p. 4-6 yrs.
When a young rabbit takes the training wheels off his bike, the resulting tumble causes him to learn something surprising about his dad. This is a good way to get youngsters thinking about “big kid” skills and an enjoyable family readaloud selection.

Spinelli, Jerry. Hokey Pokey. Knopf, 2013. 285p, Gr. 4-6.
Jack has fought with Jubilee—a girl in the dreamland of Hokey Pokey—since they were young. One day she steals his bike, and Jack realizes that he is growing up and must leave the “goodlands and badlands of Hokey Pokey” for good in this imaginative coming-of-age tale.

Sternberg, Julie. Like Bug Juice on a Burger. Amulet/Abrams, 2013. 176p, Gr. 2-3. Eleanor goes to a summer camp where she is required to try different “terrible” activities, like swimming, where she is placed in the lowest level. Eventually, she learns that maybe camp is not so bad after all.

Stutt, Ryan. The Skateboarding Field Manual. Firefly, 2009. 143p. Gr. 5-10
This glossy, action-shot-sequenced photographic manual provides a step-by-step guide to basic tricks, slides, and grinds for new and developing skateboarders. The book includes sections on skateboarding history, etiquette, gear, venues, and much more.

Tooke, Wes. King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige. Simon, 2012. 160p. Gr. 4-7.
Nick’s recent bout of polio has left him a pathetic cripple in the eyes of his father, a semi-pro baseball player. Nick attempts to reestablish himself with assistance from his father’s team’s owner, Mr. Churchill, and the elusive pitcher Satchel Paige in this fictional sports story built around real-life events of 1930s American baseball.

Van Draanen, Wendelin. The Running Dream. Knopf, 2011. 352p. Gr. 6-10.
Before a tragic school-bus crash caused Jessica to lose a leg, running was her life. Saddened by the absence of one of their teammates, the track team fundraises to buy Jessica a new prosthesis to help her 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: Malcolm, 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 and weakest kid at sports camp. Nevertheless, his summer is packed with camp lore, sports, 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.

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