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Author: Volponi, Paul
Travis, a pre-teen quarterback with big potential, gets the opportunity of a lifetime when the coach of Gainesville University football program offers him a scholarship before Travis even gets to high school.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.20
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 182601
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 4.60
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 68962
Kirkus Reviews (06/15/16)
School Library Journal (07/01/16)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 07/01/2016 Gr 6–10—Eighth grader Travis Gardner is a standout quarterback in his Pop Warner league. Besides coping with academic struggles and making fumbling attempts at romance with best friend Damon's twin sister, Lyn, Travis also deals with his parents' divorce and a strained relationship with an absent and distant dad. Shortly after his older brother, Carter, is awarded a football scholarship to Gainesville University (a barely disguised University of Florida), Travis receives his own scholarship offer from the storied Gators coach, possibly as a distraction from an NCAA investigation. Readers follow Travis through his first season of high school football, his budding celebrity status via an ESPN appearance and a popular Twitter account, a flirtation with steroids as the result of an elbow injury, and shady interactions with a deep-pocketed Gators booster offering "money handshakes" to players. The narrative is told mostly by Travis, though brief interludes from Carter, in addition to news articles from The Gainesville Sentinel, offer different perspectives. Descriptions of the teen's games are dense with football talk and would be difficult for a nonfan to follow, though they might serve as a hook for gridiron junkies. Despite some compelling drama, the exposition is awkward at times and metaphors are often clichéd ("butterflies did cartwheels inside my stomach"). An afterword relates that the novel was inspired by the stories of several middle school athletes who have been recruited by top colleges in recent years. VERDICT Purchase where there is a high interest in football and where books for reluctant readers are needed.—Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 09/01/2016 Almost every kid who ever punts a football dreams about playing at the college or professional level, and competition has gotten tougher, with a few colleges actually drafting middle-school students. This is the case for Travis, a rising eighth-grader. Fast-paced action and well-written game scenarios follow Travis during a two-year period as he tries to deal with divorced parents, sibling rivalry, media attention, and the typical rigors of school and social life. When events turn dark—a fellow athlete dies during practice, and a college booster offers Travis steroids—Travis turns to his older brother, who vigorously comes to his aid, resulting in the collapse of their college plans but also the redirection of both boys’ lives. Travis’ first-person narrative is interspersed with brief interludes from his brother and occasional newspaper articles. Travis’ love for the game and simultaneous confusion over the pressure to win at all costs seems absolutely authentic. This engaging read will resonate with middle schoolers, especially aspiring athletes, and accompanying publicity should generate considerable buzz. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.