Sports Anyone?

Tonight marks the end of the 2014 Major League Baseball season as the San Francisco Giants play the Kansas City Royals in the seventh game of the World Series. Although I started out as a Washington Senators fan back in the 1950s, from the 1980s on I’ve been a Baltimore Orioles fan, so I have mixed feelings about who wins the series. I know, I know, a lot of you don’t care about baseball, but let me tell ya you’re missing out on a wonderful sport. My family has spent many a pleasant afternoon or evening listening to the sounds and sensations of being at a game. “Cold beeah! Cold beeah! Get your ice cold beeah!” Or “Hot Dogs! Buy your hot dogs heah!” Or “Crack! It’s a home run! Adam Jones smacks another one out!” And the warm, moist breeze coming from left field that lulls you into a happy easing of life’s tensions is an indescribable pleasantry. Of course, now a days, in an effort to entice younger fans to come to a game, ball park owners insist on making noise all the time. Little do they know that kids would probably come just for the game if they were given a chance.
But professional football is already in mid-season and pro basketball is just starting up, so sports junkies can still get revved up by their favorite team’s chances. I root for the Baltimore Ravens now, but also have a soft spot for the Washington Redskins and I root for the Washington Wizards, though they used to be the Baltimore Bullets.
There are other sports that have little coverage, but take a lot of strength and agility to perform. Have you ever tried surfing? I’m way to chicken to try it, but it does look like fun—scary, yes, but still exhilarating. Plus, to surf this time a year you’d have to be south of the equator where it’s spring and growing warmer. Makes it even more enticing.
As you’ve probably guessed my reviews this week are about sports. Hope you enjoy them.
I am the youngest of four redheaded children and my brother Bill was the true sports fanatic in our family. He taught me a lot about sports, including how to throw and hit “like a boy.” That’s a whole ‘nother topic we won’t go into this time. Anyway, during our youth back in the 1950s he had gone to a Senators’ game at the old Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. with some friends. All of a sudden he feels someone rubbing his head and then he hears a slurred voice saying “Bring me luck! Bring me luck.” Bill turned around to the fellow behind him and said, “What are you doing?” The very inebriated guy replied, “Don’t ya know? Redheads brings ya luck!” Bill moved.

Lisa Wheeler
Illustrated by Barry Gott
What more could a little kid want than a book that includes sports-playing dinosaurs? This time the dinos are playing baseball. And it’s a close game, with fine pitching, good hitting and an angry team manager who gets thrown out of the game. The story is told in rhyme and the illustrations, though cartoonish, give a feel for what the different dinosaurs look like. The vegetarian animals are on the Green Sox team and the meat eaters are on the Rib-Eye Reds team. Fortunately, they don’t try to eat the Green Sox. The game starts out as a pitchers duel, but after the Green Sox’ manager is thrown out of the game; his team begins to hit the ball. They’re up 3 to zip, but Reds come steaming back and take the lead 3 to 4. By the bottom of the ninth, the Sox have tied the game up. It’s up to Apatosaur to win the game for them. Strike one, then two, before old Apty smacks the ball over the wall. I think the readers will enjoy the game. When they are not playing baseball, the dinos play other sports: soccer, hockey and basketball.
BIBLIO: 2010, CarolRhoda Books/Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., Ages 3 to 8, $16.95
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Picture Book
ISBN: 978-0-7613-4429-2
Now that the powers-that-be have rediscovered that exercise is good for children, we have a resurgence of stories about sports. This second book is about basketball. In my humble opinion, basketball players have the most beautiful bodies. They’re lean and muscular and agile and quick on their feet.

Lisa Wheeler
Illustrated by Barry Gott
The plant-eating dinos—Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Pachycephalosaur, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Jobaria and Lesothosaurus—are on the Grassclippers team and the meat-eaters—Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Raptor, Pterodactyls, Gallimimus, Allosaurus, Baryonyx and Compsognathus—are on the Meat team. The description of the game is in lively rhyme and the action is intense, with blocked shots, fouls, plenty of scores and even the half time show is full of excitement. The underdog Meats win just as the buzzer sounds. The illustrations are appropriately cartoonish, but factual enough to give the viewer an idea of what each creature looks like. Ms. Wheeler’s rhymes are very clever with a fast paced rhythm. Grown-ups will have an easy time and enjoy reading this to their young dinos. The basketball terminology also rings true.
BIBLIO: 2011, Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing Group, Ages 3 to 8
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Picture Book
ISBN: 978-0-7613-63-93-4
I don’t know about now, but back in the 1930s surfers wishing to surf the mile from Diamond Head into the beach had to be licensed. My Uncle Paul, who was always a daredevil, earned his license. And my father, at the age of 5, learned to swim near there. Of course, he almost drowned, as did the family dog, because they were swimming out to join my grandfather. Paco was extremely tired when he finally got back to shore ferrying his son and dog. Daddy never stopped swimming.
I can just imagine the feeling a surfer must have while riding a big wave. Probably the same feeling I had taking a horse over a big fence or when I was taking flying lessons. Like you own the world and you’re free of gravity.

Xtreme Sports: Surfing
S. L. Hamilton
Illustrated by Adam Weathered, Bishop Museum, Corbis, Getty Images, iStockphoto, National Geographic, Photo Researchers
The photos are outstanding and the quotes sprinkled throughout the book are a cautionary tale. What there is in the way of information is useful, including the brief history of Polynesians and Hawaiians inventing the sport, which they called the “Sport of Kings.” But the sport became popular in the States during the 1960s. Turns out the term “Hang Five” means walking to the front end of the board and hanging the toes of one foot over the edge. Surf boards are broken down into categories according to length. Long boards are longer than 9 feet (3 m) and are also heavier, which makes them easier to paddle and catch a wave, allowing the surfer to surf a small wave. Made popular in the 1960s, shortboards are less than 7 feet (2 m) long and weigh approximately 10 pounds (5 kg). They are great for tight turns or cutbacks, but are hard to paddle and control. Killer waves—16 to 50 foot (5-15 m) waves—require longer, heavier, streamlined boards called guns and should be attempted by advanced riders only. Sometimes big wave surfers get “tow-ins” to get out far enough and fast enough to catch the wave. Sort of like water skiing until you catch the wave. Other board sports briefly mentioned are kiteboarding, sailboarding or windsurfing, and skimboarding on “sleds.” Although the length of the book doesn’t give room for a whole tutorial, I would have liked a little information on how to surf.
BIBLIO: 2010, ABDO Publishing Company, Ages 12 +, $25.65
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-1-61613-005-3

6 thoughts on “Sports Anyone?

  1. Sarah,
    I took a workshop with Lisa Wheeler once. It was a boot camp held in Nashville. Great memories. She’d probably love to know that you reviewed her books here. I may still have her email address if you’d like it.

    Jumping fences on horseback and flying lessons…Wow! Go, Sarah. You made the spectator sports sound lively too. Enjoyed this one.

  2. I love a great sports story almost as much as going to the game itself! Have to confess my allegiance to the Reds! I used to go to the old Crosley field for my hot dogs and peanuts! Nothing like sitting behind the dugout and listening to the live action! I also follow the Panthers and Bengals. Notre Dame is my true love, though!

    Baseball and football are my favorite spectator sports. I love to play, too! Growing up with brothers – I played a lot of football. And I used to play on a lot of softball in my pliable years! Also play some golf and love to go horseback riding. Never tried surfing, but like you, I love to watch and dream!

    Thanks for sharing and stirring up some great memories!

  3. Glad you liked it Ann. I gave up playing tackle football when I was 13 or 14 and my brother Richard tackled me from behind sending me skidding along my burgeoning bosom. Ouch! Touch football for me after that.
    No wonder we get along so well, what with horses and golf and other sports. I used to play softball as well. And my school had soccer teams, so I’m a fan of that as well. But baseball–or as Alan tells us “basuboru” in Japanese–is my all time favorite spectator sport. Though I do like to watch a good rider perform dressage with her horse.
    BTW, if you’d like me to do an interview with you for my blog, I’m happy to oblige.

  4. Sarah, first–how cool that you took flying lessons! My daughter loved dinosaurs when she was younger and would have gobbled up the first two you reviewed. 🙂

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