________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 17 . . . . April 28, 2000

Sports Stories.

Cynthia Bates.

Grades 6-8 / Ages 11-13.
Review by Audrey Cormier.


Courage on the Line. (Sports Stories, 33).
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 1999.
117 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55028-648-X.

*** / 4


Mikayla's Victory. (Sports Stories, 29).
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 1998.
100 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55028-638-2.

**** / 4

excerpt: (Courage on the Line)

Ms. Bradford looked at her for a moment. "Amelie, I haven't told anyone about what happened. Pauline doesn't know. Do you think...." She trailed off. Amelie had never heard Ms. Bradford run out of words and she wanted to reassure her. "Ms. B., you've been awfully understanding about this. I know I let you down before, but that's not going to happen again. Pauline doesn't need to know. I'll be fine." Amelie hoped she sounded more confident than she felt. She knew a meeting with her former friends was inevitable. And she desperately hoped she'd be ready for it.
excerpt: (Mikayla's Victory)
Mikayla realized suddenly - and just in time - that the starter was about to fire his gun. She took her customary start position and responded instantaneously to the sound of the gun, focusing every last bit of energy on the task at hand. She felt the exhilarating power in her legs and arms as they pumped efficiently to drive her down the track toward the finish line. Her peripheral vision initially allowed her to see the girls running in the lanes on either side of her. By the time she had completed twenty-five meters, however, she could no longer see anyone in the other lanes. Incredibly, she had not achieved full speed yet and, by fifty meters, she knew she would win easily.
These two stories take place at the same school in Ottawa with some of the same characters appearing in both books. In Courage on the Line, Amelie Blair, a grade seven student, is a victim of peer bullying at a previous school. She excels at basketball and soon is on the team. With the help of her new friends and supportive coaches, Ms. Bradford and Pauline Duvall, Amelie finds she can face the old bullying teammates. She regains her self confidence and self esteem that had been so badly shattered. Despite the breakup of her parents' marriage, she manages to face her problems. The story dwells little on the stress of the family breakup and more on Amelie's dealing with the effects of bullying. The grade seven students' extensive knowledge of basketball and volleyball strategy seems a bit unbelievable.

Set about a year later, Mikayla's Victory tells the story of Mikayla, a black grade eight student. Because of the severe illness of their single parent mother, Mikayla and her younger sister have been in different foster homes for a few years. Both girls are in supportive caring homes and seem to have good friends and teachers. Mikayla's challenges are internal and family oriented. She worries about her mother and her sister. She is unsure of her abilities as an athlete and her status in her foster home and at school. Once again team coaches Ms. Bradford and Pauline Duvall provide great help in setting Mikayla on the right road to personal victory in school sports and help her deal with family tragedy. It is interesting to see the change in Amelie from the previous book. The intense peer pressure and continuing deterioration of her parents' marriage have caused Amelie to make some very unwise choices. It leaves readers hoping to meet Amelie again in a future book.

Recommended (Courage on the Line).
Highly Recommended (Mikayla's Victory).

Audrey Cormier, a retired teacher, is a volunteer at the Red Rock Public Library in Red Rock, ON.

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