August means back to school, the first touch of a chill in the morning air, and football, of course! This year, three of the Rosie Award nominees are about or related to football – in very special and different ways. Geoff Herbach's novel Stupid Fast is set in the exciting and bewildering world of high school football, where Felton Reinstein has gone from being a bullied failure of a stand-up comedian to a seriously fast, seriously gigantic football player in his sophomore year. There's a decent amount of football action (including off-season training) and a bit of romance, but Herbach's strong point is how he balances a story about a neglectful mother with Felton's often hilarious struggles to control his newly grown-up body and the popularity it brings. Fans of Carl Deuker or Paul Volponi's sports novels will enjoy this one. Read more about The Rosies Are Ready for Some Football
Benji is a new ESPN documentary covering the legendary rise and fall of high school basketball star Benjamin Wilson. In 1984 Benjamin "Benji" Wilson was ranked as the number one high school basketball player for that year. There seemed to be no doubt about his ability to succeed as one of the greatest basketball players of that time.
Having grown up on the tough streets of Chicago's south side, Wilson faced formidable challenges such gang violence, drugs and poverty. Despite it all, it was rumored that Bob Knight had traveled to Illinois to recruit the teen for Indiana University. As you could imagine there were many other competitive offers. All seemed well as Wilson was set to go to college and perhaps end up in the NBA but all the changed on November 20th, 1984.
This is a documentary takes you on a trip down memory lane as you go back in time to the 1960's. If you love basketball and its rich history, then you'll love this documentary. The ending is both sad and hopeful. The library has one copy of Benji available for check-out.
Henry Skrimshander is a slight shortstop with a love and strong appreciation for baseball. Henry isn't a great player, and not very strong at bat but he does have potential. When his sister writes the message "Call Mike Shorts!" by the phone, Henry's life changes forever.
Mike Schwartz is the captain of the baseball team at Westish College in Wisconsin. Mike is addicted to painkillers (also the captain of the football team, he has bad knees), hardworking and spends a lot of his time helping his teammates become the best players they can be. He is hard on them, pushing them through more squats, more lifts, and more runs than seemingly possible.
Just as Henry is about to break the NCAA record for most error free games, an errant ball slips out of his hands and flies into the face of his roommate Owen Dunne who is sitting in the dugout reading a book. This seemingly innocuous error sets into motion a series of events that become life changing not only for Henry, Mike, and Owen but also the President of Westish, Guert Affenlight, and his daughter Pella who has just returned to Wisconsin after some personal problems of her own. Read more about The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
A book about football in the summer? Sure! Pro teams are already running organized team activities, and high schools & colleges will be training hard while most of us are sipping lemonade. Gordon Korman's Pop is the perfect summer football book. Marcus is the new kid in upstate New York's Kennesaw, a former star quarterback at this old Kansas high school. Read more about Pop by Gordon Korman
When I picked up Shusterman's Bruiser, I expected to read a book about an angry kid who taunts and punches away his insecurities. While this book does deal with bullies, Brewster, the character of the title, is almost the opposite of a bully and a bit magical to boot. A hulking and shabbily dressed 16-year-old, Brewster is an outsider who people vote to be the Most Likely to Go to Jail, and generally treat as if he's not there. Which suits him fine, even if he's never stepped on an ant, because he takes on the physical and emotional pain of anyone he gets close to. Read more about Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
It is not often that a movie impresses me with its sheer chutzpah in taking three previously made stories and combining them into a new film. This is what the film Real Steel has done and it works amazingly well. Take The Champ, about a boxer and his son, and the complete plot of Rocky, mix with the episode Steel from the Twilight Zone about a robot boxer, stir well and out pops Real Steel. Read more about Real Steel