Fuse #8

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Challenge To Matt Christopher's Throne

Straight from the Hartford Courant we get a story about Mike Lupica. If you are anything like myself and view sports as entirely foreign methods of occupying one's time (except ping-pong, of course, which is the sport of the gods) then you may not know who this Lupica fellow is. According to the article he began by covering the Knicks for the New York Post (boo! hiss!) then
went on to become the youngest columnist ever at a New York paper, writing for the New York Daily News, and then graduating to magazine pieces, TV sports talk shows, biographical books and, most recently, gritty novels featuring jaded professional athletes, scummy team owners and other lowlifes.
All well and good. Why am I telling you all this? Surprise surprise, he's writing for kids now. But he's writing sports books, and for that I am grateful. I don't know about your library, but my Matt Christopher section is faded and crumbling. If anyone can vouch for Lupica's writing, lemme know. The sports genre could definitely use some new blood.


At 2:31 AM , Blogger Camille said...

I've read Travel Team and Heat and I loved them both. I do not usually read sports books but I enjoyed these so much. I found I could not stop thinking about his characters when I had to put the book down to perform some essential life sustaining task for myself or family. For the sports fan there is plenty of play by play action too.

At 10:21 AM , Blogger Stephanie Ford said...

I'm also not much of a sports fan, but I just finished the audio version of Heat this morning and I loved it. I'd also like to vouch for another sports writer turned young adult novelist, John Feinstein. I didn't think I would really enjoy Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery, but I was pleasantly surprised.

At 1:47 PM , Blogger Camille said...

I know a jr. high boy who thinks John Feinstein wrote Last Shot just for him. Feinstein is coming out with another final four that will take place at the US Open.

Sue Corbett's Free Baseball is terrific also.
Thank goodness there are some new books for sports fans.

At 9:22 AM , Blogger Greg Pincus said...

He's the real deal, I say as a sports loving, occasionally baseball-obsessed guy. But this also gives me a chance to mention John H. Ritter who has written a few great baseball-related novels. Now I must run as I must start work forthwith on the Great American PingPong Novel.

At 1:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've been reading the sports books for younger kids at our house lately (early-elementary-age son has discovered baseball and has become a rabid fan). We're very much enjoying books by Fred Bowen (who writes a weekly sports column in the Washington Post "KidsPost"), which are early chapter books. "TJ's Secret Pitch" was the first one we read (though they don't need to be read in any order). They include some interesting baseball history in each one, integrated into the story with more factual info as a postscript, and my son has very much enjoyed that.

For more complex / suitable for older kid books, we're enjoying the Baseball Card Adventures by Dan Gutman (starting with "Honus and Me"). These have an element of fantasy and an element of historical novel -- the protagonist discovers that when he holds baseball cards, he can travel through time to meet that player (Honus Wager, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Shoeless Joe Jackson, etc.). They're a little more young adult here and there (I skipped over a bit in "Mickey and Me" where the protagonist ends up in a womens' baseball locker room and talks about how excited he is to be so close to naked women -- fine for son to read later, not so much at this age).

I enjoyed reading books from both of these series more than I did reading Matt Christopher books to my son. Matt Christopher seemed to take forever describing each hit, run or error during each inning of a game. Bowen and Gutman streamline more, while still giving some detail, and they give information on other things as well. The writing of each of these series, while not perfect, seemed better to me than Christopher's.


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