Athletic Pursuits, New & Old: Sports | Series Nonfiction

Understanding a sport’s history and record-breaking accomplishments helps put current champions’ records into perspective and lays the groundwork for learning about new activities such as parkour and mixed martial arts.

SMS1511SportsJamaican sprinter Usain Bolt flies down the track to win the 100-meter dash in under 10 seconds. Split seconds mark the difference between first and second place. The action is fast and furious in other sports as well. Knowing what to watch for is essential to spectators and athletes alike, and the best of these sets let readers know what to pay attention to when they participate. Understanding a sport’s history and record-breaking accomplishments also helps put current champions’ records into perspective. Even when it comes to relatively new sports, students will benefit from knowing how these pursuits developed.


Adamson, Thomas K. Big Air Skateboarding. ISBN 9781626172722; ISBN 9781681030845.

––––. BMX Freestyle. ISBN 9781626172739; ISBN 9781681030852.

––––. BMX Racing. ISBN 9781626172746; ISBN 9781681030869.

––––. Motocross Freestyle. ISBN 9781626172753; ISBN 9781681030876.

––––. Motocross Racing. ISBN 9781626172760; ISBN 9781681030883.

––––. Skateboarding Street Style. ISBN 9781626172777; ISBN 9781681030890.

ea vol: 24p. (Extreme Sports). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Bellwether. 2015. lib. ed. $22.95. ebk. $17.95.

Gr 3-7 –This set focuses on extreme sports, covering history, gear, events, and famous athletes. Each book begins with an account of a gold-winning performance. Graphics and color photos help convey each sport’s difficulty and appeal. BMX Racing notes that Olympic races usually finish in 40 seconds or less. Motocross Racing mentions Ricky Carmichael, who completed perfect racing seasons in 2002 and 2004. In Skateboarding Street Style, text and photos capture Nyjah Huston’s impressive gold medal–winning performance at the 2014 X Games, but the safety-minded caption advises readers to “protect your head!” and explains that though “professionals often wear hats during street style events, helmets are strongly recommended.” VERDICT This effective series capably sums up the appeal of these popular sports.

Bailey, Diane. Heliskiing. ISBN 9781 634304412; ISBN 9781634305419; ISBN 9781634306294.

––––. Skydiving. ISBN 9781634304436; ISBN 9781634305433; ISBN 9781 634306317.

Buckley, Jim, Jr. Big Wave Surfing. ISBN 9781634304382; ISBN 9781634305389; ISBN 9781634306263.

Cassriel, Betsy R. Kiteboarding. ISBN 9781634304399; ISBN 9781634305396; ISBN 9781634306270.

Fitzpatrick, Jim. Skateboarding. ISBN 9781634304405; ISBN 9781634305402; ISBN 9781634306287.

Perritano, John. Motocross Racing. ISBN 9781634304429; ISBN 9781634305426; ISBN 9781634306300.

ea vol: 48p. (Intense Sports). glossary. index. photos. websites. Rourke. 2015. Tr. $32.79. pap. $9.95. ebk. $32.79.

Gr 4-6 –Fascinating details and amazing photos add context and perspective to each sport’s overview. Unusual sports such as heliskiing and skydiving are clearly explained, and the text is supplemented by well-chosen graphics. A sequence of three photos in Skateboarding details the steps in an ollie, a basic skateboarding move. An image in Big Wave Surfing offers an underwater view of a duck dive, as a surfer pushes her board safely under the lip of a wave. Each volume offers questions to answer while reading, a set of vocabulary words to look for, and a series of questions to respond to after reading the book. Motocross mentions female stars such as Sue Fish and Tarah Geiger, as well as James “Bubba” Stewart, the first African American to win a major motocross championship. VERDICT These well-written books earn high marks.

Castellano, Peter. Longboard Skateboarding. ISBN 9781482429787.

––––. MMA. ISBN 9781482429824.

––––. Motocross. ISBN 9781482429855.

Jackson, Demi. Paintball. ISBN 9781 482429916.

––––. Parkour. ISBN 9781482429947.

––––. Roller Derby. ISBN 9781482429992.

ea vol: 32p. (Daredevil Sports). further reading. glossary. index. photos. Gareth Stevens. 2015. Tr. $25.25.

Gr 3-5 –Through simplified writing and exciting color photos, these titles offer an overview of several high-adrenalin pursuits. Parkour limns the sport’s development, highlighting the efforts of French founder David Belle and freerunner Sebastien Foucan. In a concisely labeled photo, Motocross explains the colorful flags used in races. Paintball notes that being hit by a paintball may feel like when “a rubber band is snapped against your skin.” A section on staying safe concludes each book; both Longboard Skateboarding and Roller Derby note that it is important to learn to fall safely before moving on to higher speeds and tricks. However, there isn’t much to distinguish the set from similar sports series. VERDICT Though these books are not particularly memorable, browsers and fans of these popular sports may be interested in them.

Chandler, Matt. Who’s Who of Pro Baseball: A Guide to the Game’s Greatest Players. ISBN 9781491408926.

Frederick, Shane. Who’s Who of Pro Hockey: A Guide to the Game’s Greatest Players. ISBN 9781476557977.

Omoth, Tyler. Who’s Who of Pro Basketball: A Guide to the Game’s Greatest Players. ISBN 9781620659267.

Rogers, Andy. Who’s Who of Pro Football: A Guide to the Game’s Greatest Players. ISBN 9781476557151.

ea vol: 32p. (Who’s Who of Pro Sports). chart. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. 2015. lib. ed. $27.32.

Gr 3-6 –This set offers facts loosely arranged around “latest and aged greats” (current and former players) and terrific teams. Included also are “Wonderments” (lists of nicknames) and greatest records. Each book begins with a list of recent MVPs and then goes on to discuss other athletes. Baseball highlights stars such as Buster Posey, David Ortiz, and Derek Jeter, along with players known for their fielding, pitching, and pinch-hitting. VERDICT Fans will relish this set, though “Side-by-Side Sports” (Capstone, 2014) covers similar territory with better organization and more context.

Doeden, Matt. Combat Sports. ISBN 9781607538073.

––––. Track and Field. ISBN 9781607538103.

––––. Volleyball. ISBN 9781607538110.

Morey, Allan. Basketball. ISBN 9781607538066.

––––. Gymnastics. ISBN 9781607538080.

––––. Swimming and Diving. ISBN 9781607538097.

ea vol: 32p. (Summer Olympic Sports). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Amicus. 2015. lib. ed. $28.50.

Gr 2-4 –Bold colors and exciting scenes will attract beginning readers to these introductions to Olympic sports, including trampoline, the newest gymnastic event. Track and Field covers running, jumping, and throwing, as well as all-around events, such as the men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon. There is a good deal of oversimplification, but short sentences and interesting factoids will hold readers’ attention. Men’s and women’s events are discussed; the cover of Combat Sports captures a fierce contest between women wrestlers. Swimming and Diving notes that many regard swimmer Michael Phelps and Chinese diver Guo Jingjing as tops in their sports. VERDICT With the approach of the 2016 Olympics, these strong books will be welcome additions.

Glave, Tom. Baltimore Ravens. ISBN 9781631439919.

––––. Cincinnati Bengals. ISBN 9781 631439926.

––––. Cleveland Browns. ISBN 9781 631439933.

––––. Houston Texans. ISBN 9781631439957.

––––. Indianapolis Colts. ISBN 9781 631439964.

––––. Jacksonville Jaguars. ISBN 9781 631439971.

––––. Pittsburgh Steelers. ISBN 9781 631439940.

––––. Tennessee Titans. ISBN 9781631439988.

Howell, Brian. Chicago Bears. ISBN 9781634070072.

––––. Denver Broncos. ISBN 9781631439995.

––––. Detroit Lions. ISBN 9781634070089.

––––. Green Bay Packers. ISBN 9781 634070096.

––––. Kansas City Chiefs. ISBN 9781 634070003.

––––. Minnesota Vikings. ISBN 9781634070102.

––––. Oakland Raiders. ISBN 9781 634070010.

––––. San Diego Chargers. ISBN 9781 634070027.

Monnig, Alex. Arizona Cardinals. ISBN 9781634070157.

––––. Atlanta Falcons. ISBN 9781634070119.

––––. Carolina Panthers. ISBN 9781 634070126.

––––. New Orleans Saints. ISBN 9781 634070133.

––––. San Francisco 49ers. ISBN 9781 634070164.

––––. Seattle Seahawks. ISBN 9781 634070171.

––––. St. Louis Rams. ISBN 9781634070188.

––––. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ISBN 9781 634070140.

Wilner, Barry. Buffalo Bills. ISBN 9781631439872.

––––. Dallas Cowboys. ISBN 9781634070034.

––––. Miami Dolphins. ISBN 9781631439889.

––––. New England Patriots. ISBN 9781631439896.

––––. New York Giants. ISBN 9781634070041.

––––. New York Jets. ISBN 9781631439902.

––––. Philadelphia Eagles. ISBN 9781 634070058.

––––. Washington Redskins. ISBN 9781 634070065.

ea vol: 32p. (Insider’s Guide to Pro Football). bibliog. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. The Child’s World. 2015. lib. ed. $28.50.

Gr 2-4 –Each of these rigidly formatted titles covers high and low points of a different NFL team’s history. Through simple sentences, the authors introduce each team and describe rivals, stadiums, fans, mascots, and former and current stars. Many phrases are repeated across the titles. Facts are oversimplified to a sometimes frustrating extent. For example, in Dallas Cowboys, the author states that the team has won five Super Bowls and that “only one team has won more through 2014.” However, readers won’t learn which team has six Super Bowl titles unless they pick up Pittsburgh Steelers. Photos accompany each page of text; each book also includes a page of stats. VERDICT Fans will enjoy browsing, but these are marginal additions.

Hamilton S.L. Aqua Sports. ISBN 9781 624037498.

––––. Diving. ISBN 9781624037504.

––––. Personal Watercraft. ISBN 9781 624037511.

––––. Swimming in the Wild. ISBN 9781 624037528.

––––. Wakeboarding. ISBN 9781624037535.

––––. Water Parks. ISBN 9781624037542.

ea vol: 32p. (Wild Water). ebook available. glossary. index. photos. ABDO. 2015. lib. ed. $27.07.

Gr 4-6 –Readers drawn to these books because of the intriguing topics may be frustrated by the shallow treatments. With double-page photos and about a paragraph of text per page, Aqua Sports briefly introduces subjects such as water-powered jetpacks, human-powered water rollers, and dragon boat racing. Photos in Swimming in the Wild depict swimmers and divers enjoying close encounters with dolphins, whales, rays, and even sharks, though the text notes that it may be safer to enjoy these animals from a distance. Diving addresses the sport’s dangers; it covers cliff diving and platform diving into shallow pools and mentions Olympic champion Greg Louganis’s injury at the 1988 Summer Olympics. VERDICT Browsers may enjoy these offerings, but those seeking detailed coverage should look elsewhere.

Lindeen, Mary. Let’s Play Basketball. ISBN 9781599536859.

––––. Let’s Play Football. ISBN 9781 599536842.

––––. Let’s Play Hockey. ISBN 9781 599536866.

––––. Let’s Play Soccer. ISBN 9781 599536835.

ea vol: 32p. (Read and Discover - Sports). photos. Norwood. 2015. lib. ed. $22.60.

PreS-Gr 1 –These brief overviews for emergent readers can be paired with previously published stories in Norwood’s “Dear Dragon” series. (For instance, Let’s Play Football can be read alongside Touchdown, Dear Dragon.) Like the “Dear Dragon” stories, the nonfiction titles employ common sight words. Color photos add details and are well matched to the text. Most of the books depict both male and female players in the photographs. Each offering begins with a note for caregivers, and helpful appendixes include suggested reading activities and a list of the words used. VERDICT This is an acceptable series, designed with the needs of young readers in mind, though the “I Love Sports” (Jump!) series is a better choice for this audience.

Rivkin, Jennifer. All Ball: Basketball’s Greatest Players. ISBN 9780778715344; ISBN 9780778715382; ISBN 9781427177483.

Stuckey, Rachel. Full Court Press: Basketball Skills and Drills. ISBN 9780778715368; ISBN 9780778715573; ISBN 9781 427177506.

Winters, Jaime. Center Court: The History of Basketball. ISBN 9780778715351; ISBN 9780778715399; ISBN 9781427177490.

––––. Ruling the Court: Basketball’s Biggest Wins. ISBN 9780778715375; ISBN 9780778715597; ISBN 9781427177513.

ea vol: 32p. (Basketball Source). further reading. index. photos. websites. Crabtree. 2015. lib. ed. $27.60. pap. $9.95. ebk. $31.05.

Gr 4-6 –These slim volumes are packed with information and incorporate graphics, color photos, and bold fonts to explain the rules, history, major teams and players, and skills of the sport. Ruling the Court focuses on championship play, including March Madness and the Paralympic Games. Women and girls share the limelight; a girls’ basketball team huddled round their coach graces the cover of Full Court Press. Interspersed with photos are numerous info boxes. Some pages appear cluttered, but the busy layout can also be effective. The authors describe passing, shooting, and rebounding, as well as defensive skills, warming up, and good sportsmanship. VERDICT Though the organization and focus is loose and unfocused, fans will find plenty of interesting nuggets of information in these accessible books.

Middle to High School

Barrington, Richard. Tom Brady: Super Bowl Champion. ISBN 9781680481198.

Burshtein, Karen. Lionel Messi: Soccer’s Top Scorer. ISBN 9781680481297.

Ciovacco, Justine. LeBron James: NBA Champion. ISBN 9781680481044.

Dayton, Connor. Kobe Bryant: NBA Scoring Sensation. ISBN 9781680481099.

Nagelhout, Ryan. David Ortiz: World Series Champion. ISBN 9781680480993.

Nagle, Jeanne. Sidney Crosby: One of the NHL’s Top Scorers. ISBN 9781680481242.

Rauf, Don. Miguel Cabrera: Triple Crown Winner. ISBN 9781680480948.

Schauer, Pete. Russell Wilson: Super Bowl Sensation. ISBN 9781680481143.

ea vol: 48p. (Living Legends of Sports). chron. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Britannica. 2015. Tr. $25.85.

Gr 5-8 –These upbeat and engaging biographies offer a mix of anecdotes and facts, along with sidebars and color photos. Fans will enjoy learning that LeBron James maintained a B average in high school and that his favorite subject was earth science. These athletes are in their 20s and 30s, and the books neatly balance stories of the players’ early lives with their considerable personal accomplishments. For instance, readers learn that soccer star Lionel Messi overcame a childhood growth hormone deficiency and that David Ortiz felt that growing up in the Dominican Republic, where he often played baseball with makeshift equipment such as bottle caps and broomsticks, helped him become a better hitter. A time line and a section on other “living legends” add context. VERDICT This well-executed set is sure to please fans and newcomers alike.

Carpenter, Tom. Bear Hunting. ISBN 9781624038310; ISBN 9781629696973.

––––. Bowhunting. ISBN 9781624038327; ISBN 9781629696980.

––––. Deer Hunting. ISBN 9781624038334; ISBN 9781629696997.

––––. Duck Hunting. ISBN 9781624038341; ISBN 9781629697000.

––––. Pheasant Hunting. ISBN 9781 624038358; ISBN 9781629697017.

––––. Small-Game Hunting. ISBN 9781 624038365; ISBN 9781629697024.

ea vol: 48p. (Hunting). further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. ABDO. 2015. lib. ed. $32.79. ebk. $32.79.

Gr 4-7 –These effective introductions offer information on tracking and hunting, and all but Bowhunting include fascinating facts about the animals and their habitats. Charts, graphs, and maps illustrate the size and range of bear, deer, and pheasant populations in North America. A color map traces the four main routes, or flyways, that ducks use in their North American migration. The factual presentation is enlivened with fictionalized descriptions of young hunters, including women and young girls, in pursuit of their prey. Many hunters today choose traditional weapons, such as a bow and arrow, over high-tech alternatives. Each book emphasizes safe and responsible hunting. Through straightforward instructions, the author points out the best ways to kill, rather than maim, the quarry, and readers are encouraged to field dress the animal so as not to waste any meat. VERDICT These well-written overviews will be welcome in communities where hunting is popular.

Greek, Joe. Parkour. ISBN 9781499435535; ISBN 9781499435559; ISBN 9781 499435542.

Mapua, Jeff. Extreme Motorsports. ISBN 9781499435498; ISBN 9781499435511; ISBN 9781499435504.

Mooney, Cara. Skydiving. ISBN 9781 499435771; ISBN 9781499435795; ISBN 9781499435788.

Nagle, Jeanne. Extreme Biking. ISBN 9781499435658; ISBN 9781499435672; ISBN 9781499435665.

––––. Kiteboarding and Snowkiting. ISBN 9781499435610; ISBN 9781499435634; ISBN 9781499435627.

Poolos, J. Surfing and Windsurfing. ISBN 9781499435733; ISBN 9781499435757; ISBN 9781499435740.

Rajczak, Kristen. Skateboarding. ISBN 9781499435696; ISBN 9781499435719; ISBN 9781499435702.

Shea, Therese. Rock and Ice Climbing. ISBN 9781499435573; ISBN 9781499435597; ISBN 9781499435580.

ea vol: 48p. (Sports to the Extreme). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Rosen Central. 2015. lib. ed. $30.25. pap. $11.75. ebk. $30.25.

Gr 5-8 –These overviews offer action shots and interesting facts, including a look at each sport’s history. Readers will discover that surfing is tied to ancient Polynesian and Hawaiian cultures and that kiteboarding’s origins date to kites in ancient China. Skydiving introduces innovator Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick, whose daring feats in the 1920s helped convince the U.S. military to use parachutes. A sidebar in Extreme Biking notes the contributions of a unit of African American Buffalo Soldiers, who in the 1890s demonstrated possible uses of military bicycles through long-distance treks, including one totaling 1,900 miles. Motorsports notes that modified race karts open this sport to wheelchair-bound participants. Straightforward prose is employed in most of the offerings, though wordy technical explanations in Kiteboarding and dense prose in Parkour make these two titles marginal purchases. VERDICT With the exceptions of Kiteboarding and Parkour, solid options.

Labrecque, Ellen. The Science of a Slap Shot. ISBN 9781633625846; ISBN 9781633626744.

––––. The Science of a Sprint. ISBN 9781633625860; ISBN 9781633626768.

––––. The Science of a Triple Axe. ISBN 9781633625877; ISBN 9781633626775.

Orr, Tamra B. The Science of a Fastball. ISBN 9781633625822; ISBN 9781633626720.

––––. The Science of a Flip Turn. ISBN 9781633625839; ISBN 9781633626737.

Yomtov, Nel. The Science of a Carve Turn. ISBN 9781633625808; ISBN 9781633626706.

––––. The Science of a Cutback. ISBN 9781633625815; ISBN 9781633626713.

––––. The Science of a Spiral. ISBN 9781633625853; ISBN 9781633626751.

ea vol: 32p. (Full-Speed Sports). chron. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Cherry Lake. 2015. lib. ed. $20.95. pap. $9.95.

Gr 4-7 –Each book in this series details a key move or technique in order to highlight the scientific forces at work. For example, Cutback describes how in order to ride a wave, a surfer must master the opposing forces of gravity and buoyancy. Each book also outlines the history of its sport, including great athletes and their accomplishments. Key terms are highlighted and defined, and “Go Deeper!” boxes proffer thought-provoking ideas and questions. Visuals, too, are strong. Flip Turn presents a step-by-step diagram and a color photo to demonstrate how this move used in swim races has similarities with its counterparts in gymnastics and dance. VERDICT A winning combination of sports and science.

Rissman, Rebecca. Jump, Tuck, Flip: Mastering Cheerleading Skills and Stunts. ISBN 9781491452035.

––––. Make Some Noise: Cheers and Chants that Fire Up the Crowd. ISBN 9781491452042.

––––. Quest for the Best: Conquering Cheerleading Tryouts and Competitions. ISBN 9781491452059.

––––. Show Your Spirit: Cheerleading Basics You Need to Know. ISBN 9781491452141.

ea vol: 32p. (Cheer Spirit). further reading. index. photos. websites. Capstone. 2015. lib. ed. $27.32.

Gr 4-7 –Teens and tweens interested in cheerleading will find plenty of helpful suggestions in these upbeat, well-written books. Although Show Your Spirit notes that cheerleaders “have the special task of putting on an athletic show while looking great,” the series emphasizes the importance of health and fitness. Along with a section on uniforms and pom-poms, this title offers a sample game day menu for a student athlete. Jump, Tuck, Flip covers basic formations, positions, and moves with concise step-by-step instructions and color photos; it also includes warm-up stretches and recipes for a healthy smoothie and trail mix. Make Some Noise offers suggested cheers and ideas for coming up with new ones. Quest for the Best covers tryouts and competitions, with helpful packing lists, a detailed schedule of a typical competition day, and daily exercises and stretches. VERDICT Solid additions for those interested in the sport.

Whiting, Jim. AC Milan. ISBN 9781608185900.

––––. Bayern Munich. ISBN 9781608185870.

––––. FC Barcelona. ISBN 9781608185863.

––––. Liverpool FC. ISBN 9781608185887.

––––. Manchester United. ISBN 9781 608185894.

––––. Real Madrid. ISBN 9781608185917.

ea vol: 48p. (Soccer Champions). bibliog. index. photos. websites. Creative Education. 2015. lib. ed. $38.50.

Gr 5-8 –Focusing on different soccer teams, these books all open with the same overview of the sport, followed by an outline of historic events, such as the Spanish Civil War and World War II, that have shaped the team’s history. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid’s intense rivalry has its origins in 1714, when those loyal to King Philip V conquered Barcelona. The dense prose is balanced by well-labeled photos, time lines, and short biographies of outstanding players. VERDICT North American soccer fans will welcome these serviceable additions.

Sports books help deepen understanding of their subjects through facts and stats, as well as through the interplay of words and text. Rourke’s “Intense Sports” offers succinct overviews of fascinating topics such as big-wave surfing, supplemented with well-matched photos, graphics, and sidebars. This series, along with Bellwether’s “Extreme Sports,” delivers balanced overviews for fans of daredevil sports. ABDO’s “SportsZone” provides anecdotes and lively presentation of facts, supplemented by maps, graphs, and photos. Capstone’s “Cheer Spirit” emphasizes fitness, preparation, and positive attitude. Cherry Lake’s “Full Speed Sports” will appeal to browsers and report writers alike, with its innovative approach of blending science and sports. Amicus’s “Summer Olympics Sports” is a well-crafted, simple introduction for younger readers that will be especially appealing with the 2016 Olympics looming. Britannica’s “Living Legends” features upbeat biographies of popular sports stars.

Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

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