by Mike Lupica
Philomel, 2010. 165 pgs. Fiction.
If you have a young man in your home who loves sports but doesn't like reading that much, the one-two punch of the book and the book on CD of any of Mike Lupica's Comeback Kids books could be just the ticket. In this story, Jake has moved from Greenville, where his "elevens" traveling soccer team smoked every other team in the region, to Belmont, the cellar dwellers. Jake makes friends quickly but his frustration at a mostly losing season is made worse by his coach's request that he try to help his teammate Kevin, whose mother has just died, and who is angry and isolated. Jake is a terrific kid who has to figure out a lot of things about himself and others in order to be the kind of player, and young man, that he really wants to be. Lupica has gotten the joking, and goofiness, and trash talk of twelve-year old boys just right. Another nice thing in this book is that Jake is a reader--loves books right up there with sports, a dynamite combination for reluctant young readers. Keith Hobbs' reading on the CD is spirited and engaging. Highly recommended for fifth and sixth graders.