Hey all, Dani here.
Today I am happy to share reviews for two middle grade books that feature kids with powers and who want to play sports. It should be mentioned that I was approached by a publicist for Georgia McBride Media Group, which is the home of Month9Books, Swoon Reads, Tantrum Books, and Tantrum Jr, about reviewing both of these books, and I received e-galleys of both. This did not affect my rating or opinion in any way. But thank you to Month9Books and Tantrum Books for allowing me to read The Accidental Quarterback and The Impossible Pitcher.
Alexander Graham Ptuiac, the son of an inventor, dreams of playing football. But his dreams are thwarted by his lack of athleticism and overall lanky build. Like any kid with a dream, Alex tries out anyway, just in case. If nothing else, maybe he can win the role of water boy. So when Alex suddenly manifests superhuman powers during football tryouts, Alex can’t believe his good luck. He’s got game! But his new abilities can get him kicked off the team; unless Alex can keep it a secret long enough to find out how the heck he got this way. Enter Dex, a diminutive classmate who can somehow jump as high as ten feet in the air. Now, Alex isn’t the only one at school with a secret. Except, the boys have caught the attention of some pretty nefarious adults, intent on making sure neither Alex nor Dex make it through the season.The only thing stranger than Alexander Graham Ptuiac, accidental quarterback, is the shocking truth about himself and his parents. When truth is stranger than fiction and adults are out to get you, there’s only one thing to do. Play ball!
Rating: 3 stars
This was a pretty fast read, and it was pretty interesting. I say this as someone who is not massively into sports. The idea of kids with abilities was a definite draw for me to read this. I liked Alex and Dex, and I enjoyed their outsiders to sports heroes story.
However, I do have to say that some of it felt a bit unbelievable. Now, I’m not talking about Alex or Dex’s super-powered skills. That was fine. But they were 7th graders and somehow playing football with 9th graders. I don’t know exactly how this school is set up, but where I live it is either 6th-8th grade at the middle school/junior high, or just 7th and 8th grade at the middle school/junior high, and that school has a 7th grade football team and an 8th grade team. Then 9th-12th grades are part of the high school, and there is typically a 9th grade team, then junior varsity team, and varsity team.
I get that it is a private school so some of the grades and sporting rules might be different, but it bothered me to the point where I was staring at my screen trying to process what had just happened.
Now, I should also say that the sports terminology, the player positions, the plays, etc. were all spot on, which shouldn’t be a surprise as the author is a sportswriter for ESPN. Again, I’m not an expert at sports, but my years of marching band and of watching my brother play in various sports has left me at least vaguely knowledgeable. This book read like someone who knows sports, so that’s great.
There were also a few minor spelling issues, but I don’t mark down for that unless there are too many or they make the story unreadable.
I will say that I read this whole book in just a couple hours, and overall I did enjoy it. Having kids who deal with being different and being bullied but still wanting to play sports is just nice.
Oh, and I also liked that there were discussion questions at the end. That would definitely help if teachers wanted to have students read and then discuss the book.
Alex and Dex are local heroes. Suddenly, everyone wants to be friends with Alex, Dex and Sophi.
But someone more powerful than any of them lurks in the background, keeping a close watch until it’s time to swoop in and capture them. Still, Alex tries to maintain some semblance of normalcy — in the offseason, he wants to play baseball. As Alex becomes a formidable pitcher, his powers grow and so does his obsession with controlling them.
With Alex finding less and less time for Dex and Sophi, Dex discovers his cat-like abilities start to disappear soon after he starts spending time with a girl.
As the friends struggle to maintain their friendships, that mysterious someone gets closer and closer. Can the three friends find their way back to one another before it’s too late? Or will middle school tear them apart for good?
Rating: 4 stars
Okay, so what I was able to piece together from both of these books is that for the purposes of this story, middle school is 7th-9th grades. That still feels odd to me, but fine, I’ve accepted stranger things as being true while reading.
This second book was better because Dex and Alex and Sophi had better grasps on their abilities. Plus we as readers are beginning to understand things more. The mysterious people who are looking for the super powered youth play more of a role. Also, things get more complicated: Alex is still learning what it takes to activate his powers, and Dex is trying to figure out why his seem to be disappearing when he is around Huma. Sophi forms a friendship with Kenny, who was on the rival football team, and it causes some jealousy issues for Alex.
Oh, and there’s a lot more sports going on in this one. It starts a few weeks after the end of the first book, and so many coaches are trying to get Alex to join their teams. He considers tennis for a brief moment, but then decides on his second sports love: baseball. And because of Huma’s status as the best basketball player on both the guys and girls teams, there’s also a lot of basketball in the book.
Again, I enjoyed reading this. I can see how these books will appeal to younger readers, whether they enjoy sports or are more interested in the super powers as a result of genetic manipulation.
Where to Buy
Both of these books are out in stores today, so feel free to pick up one for yourself.