CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 5 . . . .October 27, 2006
TJ and the Sports Fanatic. (Orca Young Readers).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2006.
133 pp., pbk., $7.95.
Problem solving-Juvenile fiction.
Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.
Review by Christina Neigel.
“Does it have to be football?” I asked. “Couldn’t we find some other sport that’s just starting?”
Seymour looked at the ceiling. He looked at the floor. He did something very odd, even for Seymour. He shrugged.
“No big deal,” he said. “I’ll go on my own. Can’t hurt to try.”
Actually, it could hurt a lot to try. Football players are gigantic and they flatten each other at every opportunity.
I should have said No. I should have said Not in a million years. That shrug, however, had me worried. Seymour is my best friend and something strange was going on.
Part of the “Orca Young Readers” series, TJ and the Sports Fanatic is another story of the reluctant protagonist, TJ. With his best friend, Seymour, TJ is pulled into trying something new - football. TJ considers himself to be quite unauthletic, and he is dismayed to find himself agreeing to play football with Seymour. After a few weeks of practice, TJ begins to learn the thrill of participating in a team sport. His new pastime is also a useful diversion when he learns his parents can no longer keep their hardware business afloat.
Told in a simple yet compelling manner by Hazel Hutchins, TJ and the Sports Fanatic is a fun novel for young readers. Readers can easily identify with TJ and his friends as well as the realism of his family’s financial struggles. Using these foundations, Hutchins offsets the harder aspects of life for a young boy by including great elements of humour.
Appealing to the sensibilities of boys, in particular, the author not only chooses a subject appropriate to the audience, but she also intersperses her story with interesting facts about football and physics. In fact, this reviewer (hardly a fan of football) found both the facts and physics fun and enlightening! A definite asset to any library collection for children.
Christina Neigel is an Instructor in the Library and Information Technology Program at the University College of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, BC.
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