Two-Minute Drill (Comeback Kids Series)

Two-Minute Drill (Comeback Kids Series)

4.2 56
by Mike Lupica

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#1 New York Times bestseller Mike Lupica pays tribute to the underdog in his Comeback Kids series for young middle-grade readers

Chris Conlan is the coolest kid in sixth grade–the golden-armed quarterback of the football team, and the boy all the others look up to. Scott Parry is the new kid, the boy with the huge brain, but with feet thatSee more details below


#1 New York Times bestseller Mike Lupica pays tribute to the underdog in his Comeback Kids series for young middle-grade readers

Chris Conlan is the coolest kid in sixth grade–the golden-armed quarterback of the football team, and the boy all the others look up to. Scott Parry is the new kid, the boy with the huge brain, but with feet that trip over themselves daily. These two boys may seem like an odd couple, but each has a secret that draws them together as friends, and proves that the will to succeed is even more important than raw talent.

Mike Lupica scores from downtown with his Comeback Kids series.
Praise for the Comeback Kids:
“Lupica portrays the action clearly and vividly, with a real sense of the excitement and unpredictable nature of the games. These are worthy additions to collections seeking to draw in middle-grade boys with an enthusiasm for athletics.” –School Library Journal
“These should score big with middle-graders looking for alternatives to Matt Christopher's titles.” –Publisher’s Weekly
“This title is a good choice for reluctant readers with a background in baseball.” –School Library Journal

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Paula Rohrlick
Scott, the new kid in town, is finding it hard to make friends in his sixth-grade class. School itself comes easily to him—the other kids already refer to him as "the brain"—but he would rather excel at football. He loves the sport, and though he makes mistakes on the field, he is a terrific kicker. When the star quarterback, Chris, defends Scott in an encounter with the class bully and Scott and Chris become friends, Scott is thrilled. Encouraged by Chris and his parents, Scott joins the school football team, but he begs Chris not to tell the coach about his kicking skill, because the coach has no respect for kickers. Despite Scott's determination and hard work, he doesn't get much playing time, since the coach only cares about winning, not about effort. Then it turns out Chris has a secret he wants Scott to keep—he is dyslexic, and worried about failing an upcoming state equivalency test and being put in special education classes, away from his friends. Scott makes Chris a deal: he will help Chris improve at reading, and Chris will help Scott improve at football. The boys work hard together, and when the championship game takes place, Chris plays an important role in revealing Scott's special talent. Lupica, a well-known sports columnist, writes realistic sports novels that feature authentic, detailed action. This tale, part of Lupica's "Comeback Kids" series that focuses on underdogs triumphing, is a sure bet for football fans, and its portrayal of a mutually supportive friendship will appeal as well. Yes, the ending is predictable, but young readers will also find it suspenseful and satisfying, and adults will appreciate the way the story celebrates the value ofcooperation and hard work. This quick read is a good choice for reluctant readers. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
Kirkus Reviews
Scott Parry is the smartest kid in his sixth-grade class and the clumsiest player on the football team. Chris Conlan is the coolest kid and the star quarterback, but he's dyslexic and a washout in school. The two become unlikely friends, and each finds a way to offer what the other needs in a rousing, high-spirited novel for young middle-grade readers. Scott tutors Chris, and Chris gives Scott the encouragement needed to stick with football. Only Chris knows of Scott's secret skill of kicking field goals, a talent that comes in handy in the final exciting scene, after which Scott finds himself featured on YouTube and ESPN. Though simply written and predictable, this brisk story of friendship and football will be a huge hit with the target audience. (Fiction. 8-10)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Comeback Kids Series
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
880L (what's this?)
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Mike Lupica is one of the most prominent sports writers in America. His longevity at the top of his field is based on his experience and insider’s knowledge, coupled with a provocative presentation that takes an uncompromising look at the tumultuous world of professional sports. Today he is a syndicated columnist for the New York Daily News, which includes his popular “Shooting from the Lip” column, which appears every Sunday.

He began his newspaper career covering the New York Knicks for the New York Post at age 23. He became the youngest columnist ever at a New York paper with the New York Daily News, which he joined in 1977. For more than 30 years, Lupica has added magazines, novels, sports biographies, other non-fiction books on sports, as well as television to his professional resume. For the past fifteen years, he has been a TV anchor for ESPN’s The Sports Reporters. He also hosted his own program, The Mike Lupica Show on ESPN2.

In 1987, Lupica launched “The Sporting Life” column in Esquire magazine. He has published articles in other magazines, including Sport, World Tennis, Tennis, Golf Digest, Playboy, Sports Illustrated, ESPN: The Magazine, Men’s Journal and Parade. He has received numerous honors, including the 2003 Jim Murray Award from the National Football Foundation.

Mike Lupica co-wrote autobiographies with Reggie Jackson and Bill Parcells, collaborated with noted author and screenwriter, William Goldman on Wait ‘Till Next Year, and wrote The Summer of ’98, Mad as Hell: How Sports Got Away from the Fans and How We Get It Back and Shooting From the Lip, a collection of columns. In addition, he has written a number of novels, including Dead Air, Extra Credits, Limited Partner, Jump, Full Court Press, Red Zone, Too Far and national bestsellers Wild Pitch and Bump and Run. Dead Air was nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best First Mystery and became a CBS television move, “Money, Power, Murder” to which Lupica contributed the teleplay. Over the years he has been a regular on the CBS Morning News, Good Morning America and The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour. On the radio, he has made frequent appearances on Imus in the Morning since the early 1980s.

His previous young adult novels, Travel Team, Heat, Miracle on 49th Street, and the summer hit for 2007, Summer Ball, have shot up the New York Times bestseller list. Lupica is also what he describes as a “serial Little League coach,” a youth basketball coach, and a soccer coach for his four children, three sons and a daughter. He and his family live in Connecticut.

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Read an Excerpt


There were a lot of bad parts that came with being the new kid.

Scott Parry was already used to eating by himself at lunch, having nobody to talk to yet at recess.

And after just four days in the sixth grade at Bloomfield South, he pretty much expected to be sitting by himself on the short bus ride home.

He had always been shy, even in his old school, in his old town. And in the school and town before that. He just hadn’t realized that his new school was going to be this shy back.

It wasn’t that Scott wasn’t trying to fit in.

When they broke off into discussion groups, he tried to get with a new group of kids every time, hoping that at least one of them might want to talk to him when they were finished. And he knew better than to raise his hand every single time he knew the answer in class. But that was hard for him, because he basically knew the answer to any question his teachers asked.

It had been the same way for him at all his schools.

Sometimes he wished he weren’t so smart, because it seemed to make the other kids mad. What he really wanted was to be a little less good in class and a lot more good at sports, football especially. But that’s not the way things had worked out for him.

He knew teachers always liked the smart kids better, despite how they tried to act like they were treating every student the same. But he didn’t want the teachers to like him. He wanted the other kids to like him. Girls or boys. So he tried not to act like he was showing off, even though his hand still shot up more than anybody else’s in sixth grade.

It’s true that Scott felt alone most of the time, like he was hiding in plain sight, but he knew he could handle being the new kid one more time. What he couldn’t handle was what happened to him every single day while he waited for the bus home.

Because Jimmy Dolan, one of the biggest kids in his class and easily the meanest, was always waiting, too. Which meant that Jimmy had plenty of time to rag on Scott every day.

Scott wanted kids at Bloomfield South to talk to him.

Just not this kid.

The only kid in the whole school that Scott didn’t want talking to him or hanging with him wouldn’t leave him alone.

“Hey,” Jimmy Dolan said now, “here comes the brain.”

Just by watching the pickup touch football games at recess—nobody had picked Scott yet, not one time—he knew Jimmy Dolan was a good football player. At recess that day, Scott had overheard a couple of the teachers talking about how Jimmy’s dad was going to be the coach of the sixth-grade town team this season. Mr. Burden, their science teacher, had said, “Maybe his father can control him.” Just then one of the smaller sixth-graders had caught a pass and even though it was supposed to be two-hand touch, Jimmy had managed to send the kid flying.

“I wouldn’t count on that,” Mrs. Graham, their math teacher, had said.

Waiting for the bus now, Scott tried to ignore Jimmy, tried to act as if he were searching for something really important inside his backpack.

But he knew he was wasting his time, that you had about as much chance of ignoring Jimmy Dolan as you did a stomachache.

“What’s the matter, brain? You don’t want to talk to me today?”

Scott had his backpack on the ground and was kneeling over it. But Jimmy was right over him, blocking out the sun like a giant black cloud.

Scott leaned to his right a little, trying to see past Jimmy’s legs, hoping the buses were starting to board.

They weren’t.

“What’re you looking for in there?” Jimmy said. “Maybe I can help you.”

“No,” Scott said. “I’m fine.”

Too late.

Jimmy reached down and scooped up Scott’s backpack like he was trying to beat him to a dollar he’d seen on the ground. And before Scott could do anything to stop him, Jimmy had dumped everything out on the ground.

Scott didn’t care about any of the school stuff in there, his pens and notebooks and textbooks, so much stuff that his mother always asked if he was carrying bricks.

None of that mattered.

The picture mattered.

The picture of Scott’s dog, Casey. Jimmy Dolan spotted it right away.

Scott tried to reach down and grab it, but once again Jimmy was too quick for him.

“Who’s this?” Jimmy said. “Your girlfriend?”

“Give it back,” Scott said, quieter than he wanted to.

“You carry a picture of your dog with you, brain?” Jimmy said, loud enough for every kid still waiting for a bus to hear. “That’s like something the little nerd in that Lassie movie would do, right?”

Scott felt like this was some kind of assembly now, and he and Jimmy were up on stage in front of the whole school. If the other kids at Bloomfield South didn’t know the new kid before this, they sure would now.

If I’m such a brain, Scott thought, how come I can’t think of a way to get myself out of this?

As a last resort, he actually tried being nice, as hard as that was.

“Can I please have my picture back?” he said.

Jimmy smiled and shook his head no, waving the picture back and forth in front of Scott’s face.

Scott lunged for it, trying to catch Jimmy by surprise.

Only he wasn’t big enough. Or quick enough.

As he landed, Jimmy stuck out a leg and tripped him, giving him a little shove on the way down for good measure.

Scott went down hard, landing on knees and elbows.

All he could hear now was laughter.

Until he heard this: “Cut it out, Dolan.”

Not a teacher’s voice. Not a voice belonging to any grown-up. A kid, definitely.

Scott picked himself up and saw that it was Chris Conlan.

You only had to be at Bloomfield South for one day to know that even though Jimmy Dolan was one of the bigger football players in the sixth grade, Chris Conlan was the best.

Chris Conlan wasn’t just the quarterback, he was the boy all the other boys in their class wanted to be.

“What’s the problem, Chris? I was just playing—”

“Give him back his picture.”

Scott could see by the look on Jimmy’s face how much he didn’t want to back down. “Why’re you standing up for him?” Jimmy said, sounding whiney all of a sudden. “You don’t even know this guy.”

“I know you, though,” Chris said. “And I know you’re acting like a tool. Now, for the last time, give him back his picture.”

And, to Scott’s amazement, Jimmy Dolan did just that.

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