CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 15. . . .December 10, 2010
How Football Works. (How Sports Work).
Keltie Thomas. Illustrated by Stephen MacEachern.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2010.
64 pp., pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-897349-88-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-897349-87-8 (hc.).
Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.
Review by Todd Kyle.
Forget soccer! Forget rugby! Let's invent a new game. That's what a bunch of Boston schoolboys did in the 1860s. Bored out of their skulls with the two games, the boys combined kicking from soccer and running with the ball from rugby to create the "Boston Game."
As the boys grew up, some went to Harvard University and brought the Boston Game with them. But no other U.S. school played it. So Harvard looked to McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where students played traditional rugby.
The game spread to other U.S. schools and the schools began tinkering with the rules. Some elements of rugby were dropped, and some elements were created on the spot, until a whole new game came to be. And so the sport of football bounced into the world on American soil.
Part of a series of high-appeal, high-graphics books about sports, How Football Works is chuck-full of psychological insights, training secrets, historical tidbits, and technical details about a sport that non-fans can often find confusing. Written in a colloquial, tabloid-inspired style, the intricacy of the subject matter nonetheless given all due respect, the book was surprisingly addictive and not the least bit dull. The graphic design and illustrations are top-notch, with many historical photos, excellent diagrams, and cute mockups of kids of all ages, genders, and races in football uniform.
The only slight drawbacks are the constant use of the phrase "get the skinny on...." when luring the reader into a segment on one of the sport's mysteries, and the very heavy presence of the American version of the sport in comparison to the Canadian. But it's no surprise – not only is the American market for the book potentially larger, the sport is more popular there, and we Canadians still idolize their teams. Not to mention that they invented the game – with a little help from some Montrealers!
Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario and has served on the jury of a number of children's literature awards.
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