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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
Summary: Ty Lewis is a 12-year-old whose parents were recently killed in an auto accident. Ty's brother, Thane “Tiger” Lewis, will graduate from Syracuse University in May and expects to be the first round draft choice of the NY Jets. The court assigned Ty’s Uncle Gus and Aunt Virginia as his legal guardians. Uncle Gus runs a cleaning business and assigned Ty to cleaning bathrooms and floors in local barrooms and diners. Ty is aware that Uncle Gus is a ne’er—do-well who believes that he is entitled to some of Tiger’s signing bonus. Ty doesn’t want his brother to know what Gus is doing or the danger that is waiting in the wings from the FBI and organized crime. What options, if any, does Ty have? This is a fictional story that gives readers a front-row seat to life in the NFL.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, middle grade reader, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Interest Level: 8 to 13
Reading Level: 5
Age of Child: Read by a student at Denbigh High School (Newport News, VA) as part of our Use Your ABCs program. Also read by a student at Robbinsdale Cooper High School, New Hope, MN. This was part of our Use Your ABCs classroom literacy project.
Young Reader Reaction: Denbigh: I liked the book because it has a really good meaning to it. It is understandable and you will want to read it again. I picked it because I play football and it could help me with practice and give me a better look at the game. This would be a great book for kids because it shows them where hard work can take them in life. I recommend you buy it because it is a really good book. I picked the book because I was in football season and I thought it would be interesting. I thought it was going to be a real game. Ty and I are kind of alike, I felt like he did when I came to Minnesota. I didn't like that it took too long to get to the point, which made it boring.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is an enjoyable story that will capture and sustain the reader’s attention from the get-go. The author knows his craft and uses it, along with his experience as a football player, to keep the reader engaged.
Pros: Boys will be attracted to this book that builds an engaging, thoughtful story around a sport they love. You can learn about determination in this book.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. Though the book is primarily about football, the reader will find him/herself thinking about the importance of family, growing-up, dealing with challenges, and overcoming fears.
Educational Themes: There are several themes that complement the narrative: importance of family; the phenomena of bullying; friendship; responsibility for one’s actions; and being true to your self. There is much more than a good story between the covers of this book.
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 5.0 The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - sports, football, conduct of life
Date(s) Reviewed: November 2008, February 2010
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