What is summer without some fun in the great outdoors? Kid’s should get wet, they should get sweaty, and they should obtain that healthy glow of summer (protected from burning by sunscreen, of course). My kids already have some new outdoor toys to help encourage that interest–Amanda has a skateboard, courtesy of her grandparents’ recent visit; and Kyle has been whacking away with his flimsy plastic golf clubs, and is waiting patiently for a free weekend when Dad can teach him to hit with the new whiffle ball and bat.
Amanda has just finished her soccer season in an intense rush (taking 2nd place in their division tournament, which was rescheduled due to rain twice and finally ended on Sunday). I had her look at How Soccer Works for me last week, and before her last series of games in the tournament, she was telling me how it was important to have a good attitude when you’re playing–how if you picture yourself making a goal, you’ll be able to get it in. There is a chapter on the mind, and it doesn’t exactly say that, but can I admit that I haven’t seen Amanda play that well in the four years that she’s been in serious team play? She scored a goal, and made a few other attempts or passes right by the goal, so whatever it was seemed to be working.
This book features boys and girls in action, using bright cartoon drawings, and photos of real kids and athletes, so either sex will feel as if the book applies to them. In addition to the head game, topics covered include the history of the sport and the ball, basic moves and advanced strategies, and a look at the gear. There’s also a comprehensive glossary in the back and a section on the World Cup.
How Baseball Works addresses this sport in the same way. The pictures are more heavily weighted toward male figures, but there are girls in action as well. The section on the tools includes an experiment to help find your bat’s sweet spot. Pictures and diagrams show how to throw using a variety of pitches. There are features about the first women’s leagues and baseball greats (both players and ballfields), and controversial practices such as corking the bat and pumping up on drugs are addressed in sidebars throughout the book.
Another use of books in this series is as an introduction to the sport–as a spectator or a player. On the first page of both books, a girl has a cartoon bubble coming out of her mouth saying, “Psssst. You don’t have to be a baseball (or soccer) fanatic to read this book. The rules and regs and baseball (or soccer) talk are decoded on page 61.”
The author, Keltie Thomas, has also written other books on basketball and hockey in the How Sports Work series if those sports are what interests your kid. I have reviewed several other books by Maple Tree Press in the past (Smartopedia, This is My Planet, and some science books). They have all been terrific and do uphold their goal of “offering bright, inventive books on a wide range of subjects, including animals, sports, folktales, humor, health and fitness, science, and history.”
Would your eight to twelve-year-old like to find out more about the nitty gritty of of How Soccer Works or How Baseball Works? Three of you (U.S. addresses only) will be selected to win both of these books. Leave a comment, and then check back on June 24 to find out all the winners of the Creative Summer Days giveaway.