Love of the Game | Sports Series Nonfiction

With the Olympic and Paralympic Games around the corner, sports fans have a lot to celebrate, and these titles will deepen their love and knowledge of the game. 


This year’s Summer Olympics and Paralympics will draw worldwide attention as athletes from around the world meet in Paris, and young sports fans will be inspired and entertained by a myriad of stories. The following sports series represent a range of approaches to storytelling and learning, including overviews of the Summer Olympics and Paralympics, and specific disciplines such as martial arts. Other series focus on strategy and STEM concepts, offer fans the chance to compare athletes from different eras, or take an exhilarating if uneven look at extreme sports. One playfully salutes signature moves worthy of infectious celebrations. Sports fans have lots to celebrate, and each of these series has something to help deepen young readers’ love of the game.



BOLTE, Mari. Aquatics. ISBN 9781640267671.
––––. Gymnastics. ISBN 9781640267657.
––––. Rowing. ISBN 9781640267664.
––––. Wrestling. ISBN 9781640267695.
GISH, Ashley. Athletics. ISBN 9781640267626.
––––. Cycling. ISBN 9781640267633.
––––. Fencing. ISBN 9781640267640.
––––. Triathlon. ISBN 9781640267688.
ea vol: 24p. (Amazing Summer Olympics). Creative Company/Creative Education. Jan. 2024. Tr. $35.70.
Gr 2-4–Stunning photos paired with short, simple text make this series stand out. Though each book limns the history of the sport in question, the focus is on recent Olympic athletes, like Katie Ledecky, current record holder for medals (10) among female Olympic swimmers. Action-packed photos provide intriguing details and complement the text. An amazing photo in Athletics captures the intense moment when a group of runners approach the hurdles and water barrier in the women’s steeplechase event. The main drawback of these books is their brevity; though well-chosen photos add to the telling. VERDICT Appealing and accessible to a wide audience, this is sure to build interest in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Paris.

FOXE, Steve. Jump Throws and Curtain Calls. ISBN 9781669065623.
––––. One-Hand Grabs and Griddy Dances. ISBN 9781669065784.
––––. Ronaldo Chops and Jersey Swaps. ISBN 9781669065548.
––––. Tornado Dunks and Chalk Tosses. ISBN 9781669065708.
ea vol: 32p. (Sports Illustrated Kids: Signature Celebrations, Moves, and Style). Capstone. Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.32.
Gr 2-4–These lively books offer thumbnail sketches of great players from baseball, basketball, football, and soccer, and highlight their “unique, iconic, and nearly unstoppable” signature moves. Readers learn about wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s astonishing one-handed touchdown catch, along with gridiron celebrations such as the “Lambeau leap.” Basketball fans will love Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s “skyhook” and Shaquille O’Neal’s “tornado dunk,” along with Steph Curry’s mastery of game-winning three-pointers. Noting that Brandi Chastain caused a stir when she celebrated the US soccer team’s win in the 1999 World Cup by taking off her jersey, the author observes that male players have a longstanding tradition of swapping jerseys as a sign of respect for opponents following a memorable game. VERDICT Playful and well-written, this series will appeal to a wide audience.

HELT, Julianna. Muay Thai. ISBN 9781637387672.
––––. Tae Kwon Do. ISBN 9781637387689.
MURRELL, Diana. Jiu-Jitsu. ISBN 9781637387634.
ROOK BYLENGA, Heather. Judo. ISBN 9781637387641.
STORM, Ashley. Karate. ISBN 9781637387658.
––––. Kung Fu. ISBN 9781637387665.
ea vol: 32p. (Martial Arts). North Star Editions/Apex. Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 2-4–Each book in this series begins with an engaging account of a match from the perspective of a young athlete. In Judo , a girl in her first competition uses a twist move to throw her opponent to the mat. “The girl pins her down. The opponent can’t get away. So, the girl wins.” The books go on to describe the history and growth of each sport, along with the basic skills involved and types of competition. Colorful photos and sidebars, large text, and an appealing, uncluttered design enhance the fast-moving narrative of these concise books. Each book includes questions for comprehension. VERDICT These books should appeal to young participants and newcomers captivated by these intriguing sports.

LOUREIRO, Stephanie. Infographics: Engineering a Win. ISBN 9781668937877.
––––. Infographics: Strategic Statistics. ISBN 9781668937914.
STARK, Kristy. Infographics: Angles of Achievement. ISBN 9781668937860.
––––. Infographics: Every Second Counts. ISBN 9781668937884.
WILLIAMS, Heather. Infographics: On the Scoreboard. ISBN 9781668937891.
––––. Infographics: Shape of the Game. ISBN 9781668937907.
ea vol: 24p. (Sports-Graphics Jr.). Cherry Lake. Jan. 2024. Tr. $30.64.
Gr 2-4–These well-crafted books use diagrams, charts, and maps to illustrate STEM concepts in sports, such as shapes, statistics, and forms of measurement. Angles and arcs can be seen in sports equipment and playing fields. In Shape of the Game, a clearly labeled diagram asks readers to discern “how many polygons are on a baseball field.” Innovative advances in equipment, such as football helmets, can make sports safer. A colorful map in Engineering a Win locates the “top six loudest stadiums” in the U.S. Each book includes a follow-up activity. Every Second Counts suggests readers time themselves in an activity they enjoy, such as running, and chart their times over five days. VERDICT This series is sure to win fans among teachers and young readers alike!

Upper Elementary to Middle School

ANDERSON, Josh. Aaron Judge vs. Babe Ruth. ISBN 9798765610305.
––––. Alex Morgan vs. Mia Hamm. ISBN 9798765610282.
––––. Lionel Messi vs. Pelé. ISBN 9798765610299.
––––. Roman Reigns vs. Hulk Hogan. ISBN 9798765610275.
––––. Sidney Crosby vs. Wayne Gretzky. ISBN 9798765610312.
––––. Simone Biles vs. Nadia Comaneci. ISBN 9798765610268.
ea vol: 32p. (Lerner Sports: All-Star Smackdown). Lerner. Jan. 2024. Tr. $30.65.
Gr 4-6–Sports fans endlessly debate which athletes and teams are the best, and this series entices young fans to consider and compare great athletes from past eras with current stars. Each title begins with a memorable moment, such as 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci becoming the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 in the 1976 Summer Olympics. Nadia is matched with Simone Biles, and subsequent chapters trace each athlete’s development and career. Each book ends with a summation to determine which athlete was best, but allows readers to make their own decisions. The writing is straightforward, with colorful photos and factoids in sidebars. Soccer fans will relish the comparison of legends Pelé and Lionel Messi, both shorter than average in height. VERDICT The inclusion of four great female athletes is welcome, and this series will be a hit with sports fans.

CLARKE, David J. Baseball Strategies. ISBN 9781098292423.
––––. Hockey Strategies. ISBN 9781098292454.
––––. Soccer Strategies. ISBN 9781098292478.
––––. Tennis Strategies. ISBN 9781098292485.
GIEDD, Steph. Basketball Strategies. ISBN 9781098292430.
HANLON, Luke. Football Strategies. ISBN 9781098292447.
HEWSON, Anthony K. Auto Racing Strategies. ISBN 9781098292416.
SHAPIRO, Sean. Mixed Martial Arts Strategies. ISBN 9781098292461.
ea vol: 48p. (Sports Strategies). ABDO/SportsZone. Jan. 2024. Tr. $34.22.
Gr 4 Up–From mixed martial arts which draw upon traditional disciplines to modern auto racing, strategy is essential to sports. Offering dramatic, action-packed photos, these concise overviews use historic plays and current athletes to demonstrate strategy’s impact. Top-tier players are versatile and multi-talented, such as WNBA forward Breanna Stewart, a master of “positionless” offense and defense. Excerpts from memorable games also demonstrate strategic play. In the 2022 Australian Open, Coco Gauff’s aggressive play, including “attacking the net,” proved pivotal in winning key matches. Soccer Strategies describes how an aggressive strategy called “high press” has helped women’s teams to outscore and overcome opponents. VERDICT Sports fans will relish these well-written books, which should be welcome additions in most libraries.

EASON, Sarah. Dig Deep! Extreme Land Sports. ISBN 9781915761521.
––––. Don’t Look Down! Extreme Air Sports. ISBN 9781915761514.
––––. Freeze Your Fear! Extreme Snow and Ice Sports. ISBN 9781915761507.
––––. Take a Deep Breath! Extreme Water Sports. ISBN 9781915761538.
ea vol: 48p. (Ultimate Sports). Cheriton. Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.99.
Gr 6 Up–Readers will be attracted by stunning photos of thrill-seekers in extreme and often dangerous sports. Each book covers several extreme sports from skateboarding to mountain climbing, from gliding to cliff-diving. Details of most sports are lightly traced, along with sketches of noteworthy athletes, including Chloe Kim and Elana Meyers Taylor. Intriguing topics abound, such as locations to pursue extreme sports. The best bungee jumping sites, for an example, range from a bridge over Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls to a skyscraper in Singapore. Participants find extreme sports exhilarating, though their dangers are noted as well. The overall design feels a bit cluttered with too many images and random facts. VERDICT This uneven series is best aimed at browsers, who will have to look elsewhere for substance.

HANLON, Luke. Para Alpine Skiing. ISBN 9781503885134.
––––. Para Track and Field. ISBN 9781503885127.
––––. Sled Hockey. ISBN 9781503885080.
MCDOUGALL, Chrös. Goalball. ISBN 9781503885110.
OLSON, Ethan. Para Cycling. ISBN 9781503885141.
––––. Para Swimming. ISBN 9781503885103.
––––. Sitting Volleyball. ISBN 9781503885097.
––––. Wheelchair Basketball. ISBN 9781503885073.
ea vol: 24p. (Paralympic Sports). Child’s World/Stride. Jan. 2024. Tr. $32.79.
Gr 4-6–Each book in this series begins with an excerpt from a game or race from an athlete’s perspective, before moving on to an overview of each sport, its equipment and history, and ends with thumbnail sketches of noteworthy athletes. Straightforward prose is complemented by photos and diagrams, especially helpful in detailing equipment such as monoskis or delineating a sitting volleyball court. Paralympic competitions have grown to include athletes from around the world, including China’s para swimmer Tao Zheng, who has won 10 medals after just two Olympics. Along with a glossary and resource list, each book includes three questions that focus on empathy, including: “Why is it important to offer opportunities for disabled people to compete in sports?” VERDICT These readable accounts offer concise introductions to these sports, and the inspiring athletes who compete in them.

The well-crafted “Sports-Graphics Jr.” (Cherry Lake) series is the front-runner among series aimed at younger readers, with a thoughtful overview of STEM concepts illustrated with colorful charts, diagrams, and maps. “Paralympic Sports” (Child’s World/Stride) makes good use of graphics as well and offers an empathetic approach to its inspiring athletes. “Martial Arts” (North Star/Apex) and “Sports Strategies” (ABDO/SportsZone) use a winning formula to introduce their fascinating topics. “Signature Celebrations, Moves, and Style” (ABDO/Capstone) focuses on the playful side of sports. Lerner’s “All-Star Smackdown,” featuring comparisons of past and current athletes, will be popular as well. Though short on text, the outstanding images in “Amazing Summer Olympics” (Creative Company) ensure that books in this series will be first chosen from any display.


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