The League

Overview

"This book is a solid choice for reluctant readers who also happen to love football."—School, Library Journal 

Just when it seems that his football dreams are history, Wyatt's older brother, Aaron, makes an unexpected offer: If Wyatt ditches golf camp, he can play with Aaron in the League of Pain: the roughest and most secretive rogue football league in town.

Now Wyatt has a choice. He can play by the rules like he always does, or he can ...

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The League

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Overview

"This book is a solid choice for reluctant readers who also happen to love football."—School, Library Journal 

Just when it seems that his football dreams are history, Wyatt's older brother, Aaron, makes an unexpected offer: If Wyatt ditches golf camp, he can play with Aaron in the League of Pain: the roughest and most secretive rogue football league in town.

Now Wyatt has a choice. He can play by the rules like he always does, or he can follow his heart—even if it means lying to the people he cares about the most. 

But if Wyatt wants to play in the league, he must learn to accept the penalties.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Gr 5-9–Wyatt Parker is an awkward eighth grader who gets picked on by bullies and told what to do by his parents; his older brother, Aaron; and even his best friend, Francis. During the summer between middle school and high school, he tries to convince his parents that playing recreational football would be a better idea than going to boring golf camp. He’s sick of being pushed around and wants to impress his crush-worthy neighbor. When they refuse to let him play, Aaron, a known troublemaker, makes Wyatt a deal he can’t refuse: if Wyatt ditches golf camp and keeps it a secret from their parents, Aaron will let him play in the “League of Pain,” a rough and dirty secret football league in their town. Heldring creates a believable story about one boy’s journey to find himself and make his own decisions. Although the plot develops slowly, at the halfway point the pace picks up. With its focus on bullying, a first crush, changing friendships, and coming of age, this book is a solid choice for reluctant readers who also happen to love football.–School, Library Journal 

Heldring’s latest novel well conveys the allure of contact sports, particularly tackle football, and the appeal of evasive tactics, particularly lying to your parents. Of course, Heldring shows how lying fails Wyatt Parker in the end, but he also makes Wyatt’s actions understandable. Wyatt is introduced as a model eighth-grade student, but it’s the start of the summer, and he feels a need to prove himself. For too long, bigger kids have bothered, if not bullied, him, and although his parents are pushing him into golf camp, he’d rather play flag football. So, in a tale narrated by Wyatt in hindsight, he ditches golf camp to sneak off to his older brother’s secret football league. Wyatt’s deceit extends beyond his parents, but his desire to be part of a group, combined with the exhilaration of excelling at a team sport, helps him justify to himself what he’s doing. Heldring deftly shows how Wyatt figures out the differences between him and his brother as well as the great appeal of a clear conscience.—Booklist

A conscientious, undersized middle schooler decides he wants sports success even if it means lying about the secret league he joins.
Wyatt Parker has decided he is tired of being bullied, and he also wants his best buddy, girl-next-door Evan, to see him as more than a friend. The fact that she seems smitten with a high school quarterback reinforces the idea that playing football is the answer. His parents are supportive of sports: His older brother, Aaron, plays football. Wyatt, though, is small for his age, and they think the sport too dangerous, so his dad enrolls him in golf camp. Then his older brother lets him in on a secret football league with no adult supervision, where the hitting is fierce and only the toughest are welcome, including his school's biggest bully. In order to play, Wyatt will have to engage in the kind of deception that he hates. The more he becomes involved in the league, the more he changes, until his relationship with Evan is affected. This story weaves family issues with the role that sports plays for teens, especially in the transitional period leading to high school. Wyatt is a strong, multidimensional character, and the tension is palpable as he strives to keep his secret. Secondary characters are varied if not very developed early in the book.
The action scenes add a level of excitement that will keep sports fans reading.—Kirkus 
 

VOYA - Morgan Brickey
Wyatt Parker begins his summer by being on a bully's hit list, and to make matters worse, he finds out his best girl friend has a crush on someone else. Wyatt is tired of being overlooked and bullied, and he knows that the golf camp his dad signed him up for is not going to help at all. Wyatt decides that playing football, which his parents forbid, is the answer to his problems. After some football games at the park, he is ready for the secret League of Pain about which his brother told him. Wyatt has never broken the rules before, but this summer is special, and he knows that there will be trouble when his parents find out he skipped golf camp to play tackle football. This title will mainly appeal to boys who are reluctant to read during the long summer months. Wyatt's single-minded obsession with football is not adequately explained, which leaves the reader wondering if all the lies and trouble he instigated are worth it. Many football plays are given with intricate details; this might endear or alienate some readers, depending on their comfort level with the sport. There is little originality in this book; the situations presented are unimaginative and, unfortunately, they are handled very typically. There is little new ground covered in this work which should only be purchased where sports-oriented titles are extremely popular. Reviewer: Morgan Brickey
Kirkus Reviews
A conscientious, undersized middle schooler decides he wants sports success even if it means lying about the secret league he joins. Wyatt Parker has decided he is tired of being bullied, and he also wants his best buddy, girl-next-door Evan, to see him as more than a friend. The fact that she seems smitten with a high school quarterback reinforces the idea that playing football is the answer. His parents are supportive of sports: His older brother, Aaron, plays football. Wyatt, though, is small for his age, and they think the sport too dangerous, so his dad enrolls him in golf camp. Then his older brother lets him in on a secret football league with no adult supervision, where the hitting is fierce and only the toughest are welcome, including his school's biggest bully. In order to play, Wyatt will have to engage in the kind of deception that he hates. The more he becomes involved in the league, the more he changes, until his relationship with Evan is affected. This story weaves family issues with the role that sports plays for teens, especially in the transitional period leading to high school. Wyatt is a strong, multidimensional character, and the tension is palpable as he strives to keep his secret. Secondary characters are varied if not very fully developed early in the book. The action scenes add a level of excitement that will keep sports fans reading. (Fiction 10-14)
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Eighth-grader Wyatt Parker wishes he was macho enough to not be picked on. Plus, he wishes the girl next door, Evan Robinson, would have romantic feelings towards him instead of the hulky quarterback, who seems to be all muscles and self-assurance. At least Wyatt's at the movies with Evan, and the quarterback is not. But Wyatt decides he will go out for summer football, so he can toughen up. The only problem is: Wyatt's dad has signed him up for golf camp, so they can play golf more often. Wyatt does not even really like golf, but he is not used to going behind his parents' backs. Also, his best friend Francis and sister Katie are psyched about going to the golf camp and hanging out with Wyatt. Older brother Aaron introduces Wyatt to the "League of Pain," a no holds barred, tackle football league that plays in a secluded part of the community's sports park. Wyatt's father will not let him out of the golf camp, so he lies about it, telling the camp he is going to a space camp instead. Then he hurts Francis' feelings by not even calling to say he is skipping the professional golf tournament they have tickets to attend. Wyatt does get more muscular and more respected by the end of the two-week league. Along the way, he discovers that telling lies and being deceptive really are not cool. He also learns that he can stand up for himself without giving in or being a bully. This is an engaging story with good characters, and it could be useful in classroom discussions about bullying and self-esteem. There could have been a bit more effort to explain why the parents do not seem to want much to do with their older son. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
09/01/2013
Gr 5–9—Wyatt Parker is an awkward eighth grader who gets picked on by bullies and told what to do by his parents; his older brother, Aaron; and even his best friend, Francis. During the summer between middle school and high school, he tries to convince his parents that playing recreational football would be a better idea than going to boring golf camp. He's sick of being pushed around and wants to impress his crush-worthy neighbor. When they refuse to let him play, Aaron, a known troublemaker, makes Wyatt a deal he can't refuse: if Wyatt ditches golf camp and keeps it a secret from their parents, Aaron will let him play in the "League of Pain," a rough and dirty secret football league in their town. Heldring creates a believable story about one boy's journey to find himself and make his own decisions. Although the plot develops slowly, at the halfway point the pace picks up. With its focus on bullying, a first crush, changing friendships, and coming of age, this book is a solid choice for reluctant readers who also happen to love football.—Joanne Albano, Commack Public Library, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385741811
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/10/2013
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 399,975
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 8.53 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

THATCHER HELDRING grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where he taught himself to write and play sports—though not at the same time. He has had several jobs in publishing. He has also worked as a grocery bagger, a ditchdigger, a small forward, a goalie, a scorekeeper, a coach, a rabid fan, a benchwarmer, and a shortstop. This is his second novel. He lives with his wife and son in Seattle, a good place for indoor sports.

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