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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Sports Books from Gareth Stevens

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job? Since I have data to support the need for more sports books, Clutch PerformersI continue to put new titles in students’ hands and request that they "help me" review possible books for our library. This week we looked at The Ultimate 10 Sports series from Gareth Stevens. Well, actually we looked at 4 of the 6 titles because Mrs. Norwood hijacked Football and Basketball to review in her room. See what happens when you get students AND teachers excited about developing opinions on books?!

Even though the students are "supposed" to be studying for our TCAP tests, many of their teachers tell me they’ve finished their work so these students come to the library looking to "help." I put all 18 of them to work reading books and sharing what they liked and disliked about several hundred books. Many of the students carried home 6-8 books to review over the long Easter weekend. I wonder what their parents think when they bring home self-inflicted homework?

Two of the boys chose this series to review. When I asked them about it, they told me it was a miracle happening on Easter week – they were reading books. One of them told me these would be perfect for reluctant readers because he hadn’t read a book in 4 years and he’d already read one of these during that class period. He said the authors put alot of interesting stuff in that made it worth turning the pages and that even though he didn’t think he would like it at the beginning, he kept reading about people who surprised him because they were actually interesting. His friend chimed in that he liked all the charts and all the quotes and especially the "Did You Know?" factboxes because when he got tired of reading to himself, he could ask other people about this. It made it more fun that just a bunch of facts in a story. 

Both of them agreed that the captions under the photos were really important because not only did they tell who was in the picture, but there were sentences with verbs explaining what was going on. For example under the photo of Michael Phelps screaming, the caption reads "Michael Phelps celebrates his team’s win in the 400-meter freestyle relay at the 2008 Olympics." As one of them told me, I’d been seeing this photo everywhere and didn’t know why this guy looked like he was in pain yelling. 

The Ultimate 10: Clutch Performers by Mark Stewart. Gareth Stevens, 2009. ISBN 13: 978-0-8368-9158-4 includes four pages on each of ten top clutch performers in sports plus two honorable mentions. I was very pleased with the mix of people in these books with old and new, varying sports, and some surprises. I was pleased to see Mark Messier of hockey fame even though Wayne Gretzky came immediately to mind when I thought about hockey. After reading Mark’s bio, I understand his importance to the sport and his role as a leader. 

Clutch Performers is a KEEPER! It will last beyond the current season of sports and will enable new readers to share the information with veteran sports lovers. Classic Rivalries

The Ultimate 10 Sports: Classic Rivalries ISBN 978-0-8368-9161-4 stands out in my mind because it includes female athletes and their rivalries in addition to the tradition male rivalries. I wonder how author Mark Stewart chose these rivalries though. I’d be willing to bet you could take this list into any sports bar (oops, sports beverage facility) and every sports fan there would add additional rivalries or challenge these top ten. 

Army vs Navy shows up in the Honorable Mention page, for example, while the Tennessee Lady Vols vs Connecticut Huskies are #9. Despite the importance here in TN of the Lady Vols led by the greatest coach ever – Pat Summit, I think the rivalry of Army-Navy begun in 1890 should have triumphed. If you want to argue with me about the greatest coaches ever, you’ll have to write to author Mark Stewart and try to get him to write a book and compile a list. This is my blog post and I get to choose Pat Summit. By the way you should ask any Tennessean about UConn and watch that little lip snarl thing.

The Ultimate 10 Sports: Olympics ISBN 978-0-8368-9160-7 is another classic keeper. Isn’t it wonderful that Gareth Stevens created The Olympicssome sports books that actually will last and not be easily out-of-date. I wonder if I were to just write some of the quotes, whether you could identify the Olympic event and who said it. Let’s try. (answers at the very bottom)

  1. "Do you believe in miracles? Yes.!" 
  2. "The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals."
  3. "You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get."
  4. "He’s so big and nasty, it’s like a horse pushing you."
  5. "Compared to this jump, we are as children."
  6. "The triumph can’t be had without the struggle. And I know what struggle is."
  7. "I didn’t know if I would get the gold, I just wanted it."
  8. "Her precision and daring in gymnastics have never been seen before in an Olympics."
  9. "Gold, silver, and bronze isn’t special. It’s giving 100 percent and knowing you’ve done the best you can."
  10. "My sport taught me what I could do with my talents, whether in the rink or in the rest of my life."

The Ultimate 10 Sports: Baseball  ISBN 978-0-8368-9156-0 BaseballDo I even need to mention anything about this book? Baseball is so popular in America. It even inspires students at my school to read so they can attend a free baseball game courtesy of the Nashville Sounds. I’m planning to take this book with me to ask some other sports fans which games they consider the ultimate 10. This weekend is season opener for our local team and lots of my friends are leaving church, changing clothes in the parking lot, and heading to the game. 

I wonder if Mark can be convinced to write about hockey, soccer, tennis, and a few more sports. How about a title just about women athletes?

Matches for the Olympics’ quotes:

  1. Al Michaels during the final seconds of the Miracle on Ice.
  2. Jesse Owens
  3. Michael Phelps
  4. Rulon Gardner, on Alexander Karelin
  5. Soviet long jumper Igor Ter-Ovanesyan on Bob Beamon’s jump
  6. Wilma Rudolph
  7. Shaun White (the flying tomato)
  8. Sportswriter Frank DeFord on Nadia Comaneci
  9. Eric Heiden
  10. Peggy Fleming (really interesting to me since I didn’t know about the fatal accident of the entire US team before her)