Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mainstream Author Highlight: Mike Lupica

Here at CCBR, we haven't covered many sports books for boys. As I was looking for sports titles, I kept running into the name Mike Lupica. A sports columnist for thirty years, Lupica started as a columnist at the New York Daily News, and still writes a syndicated column. He also reports on ESPN, and writes for several major sports publications. Lupica has written twenty-seven books, primarily chapter books for the 8 and up set. He draws on his own experience as a youth soccer, Little League, and basketball coach, in addition to his years of covering pro sports.

In Lupica's Comeback Kids series, the heroes are 8-12 year-old athletes who have to overcome their circumstances. In Hot Hand and Two-Minute Drill, they deal with parents divorcing, moving to a new town, and learning disabilities. In each of the books, the heroes love sports, and learn important life lessons by being part of a team.

Lupica's longer books are designed for slightly older readers, and have more complex plot lines. Still, his main characters are realistic but positive role models for readers. While Lupica often writes about conflict between parents and children or coaches and athletes, he always includes at least one healthy, caring adult influence. Both The Big Field and Miracle on 49th Street have satisfying endings with a great message.

What I Like: I really like Lupica's commitment to providing positive heroes readers will relate to, as well as the fact there is always a supportive adult in the picture somewhere. Lupica's main characters overcome some type of struggle, and are better people by the end of the book.

Lupica's years of sports writing make him a pleasure to read. There isn't a confusing or redundant sentence anywhere, and the dialogue is just as well written as his (detailed) game scenes. I even found myself interested in a recent televised baseball game, simply because I understand it so much better after reading The Big Field.

What I Dislike: Nothing. While not specifically Christian, Lupica's books value hard work, fair play, and family.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 8-16

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