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The Underdogs

( 89 )

Overview

Will Tyler can fly on a football field. He may not be the biggest running back around, but no one can touch him when it comes to hitting the hole and finding the end zone. And no one can match his love of the game. When Will has a football in hand, he may as well be flying for real because life can't touch him - his dad isn't so defeated, his town isn't so poor, and everyone has something to cheer for. All of which does him no good if the football season is canceled. With no funding for things like uniforms and a...

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The Underdogs

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Overview

Will Tyler can fly on a football field. He may not be the biggest running back around, but no one can touch him when it comes to hitting the hole and finding the end zone. And no one can match his love of the game. When Will has a football in hand, he may as well be flying for real because life can't touch him - his dad isn't so defeated, his town isn't so poor, and everyone has something to cheer for. All of which does him no good if the football season is canceled. With no funding for things like uniforms and a cared-for playing field, with seemingly every other family moving to find jobs, there simply isn't enough money or players for a season. Unless one kid can rally an entire town and give everyone a reason to believe . . .

For fans of his bestselling novels Travel Team and Million-Dollar Throw, Mike Lupica delivers a feel-good sports story that will have readers cheering where they sit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Twelve-year-old football talent Will lives and breathes his sport. And he's not about to let the tough times suffered by his western Pennsylvania town—including a major factory closure—signal the end of the football program he loves. With a Hail Mary pass–effort, Will makes a passionate plea to footwear maker New Balance and secures funding to play if he can pull together a proper team. He eventually rallies an unlikely group—including a girl and Will's father as reluctant coach—worthy of a championship. Lupica (The Batboy) again nails the emotions of likeable kids who just want to play, and who aren't too overscheduled or distracted for neighborhood pick-up games. Frequent mentions of the history and hardships of Will's town and references to the nearby favorite pro team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, help keep this Cinderella story grounded in contemporary reality. Despite a sluggish start and a familiar trajectory, football fans will likely respond to the detailed and exciting game action once the season gets rolling and find inspiration in Will and his teammates' tenacity. Ages 10–up. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Justina Engebretson
Football is more than just a sport to twelve-year-old Will Tyler; it is the very air he breathes. Unfortunately, though, there is not enough money for a twelve year old football team this season in the town of Forbes, Pennsylvania. Once upon a time, Forbes had been home to the factory that produced the Forbes Flyers, once a very popular athletic shoe brand. However, the factory has long since been shut down and with it, many jobs lost. Now it is up to Will to save the football season. In a daring attempt, Will writes a letter to the CEO of New Balance, requesting that they sponsor Forbes seventh grade football team. Much to his surprise, he receives a letter back stating that New Balance will indeed sponsor the football team. Now the only problem is coming up with enough players for a team and finding a coach; however, despite these minor details, the Forbes Bulldogs have their football team complete with the right amount of players, including Hannah Grayson (the new girl in town), and the perfect coach. When game day arrives, they lose but as the season goes on, they prove to get better. Before they know it, the championship game has arrived and once again Castle Rock and Forbes meet to battle it out. Only this time, Will is determined the game will not end like last year's championship game. Pre-teen boys will enjoy this middle reader, particularly those who love the game of football, as will some girls. Reviewer: Justina Engebretson
VOYA - KaaVonia Hinton
Seventh grader Will Tyler has been playing football for as long as he can remember, but this year, pickup games and fantasy football seem to be the only way he will experience the sport. The sneaker factory in his hometown of Forbes, Pennsylvania, is closed, leaving many in the community distraught and destitute. The national unemployment rate is hovering around 9 percent; the people are feeling the repercussions, and it is affecting their children. There is not enough money in the city's budget to support the football league, and they need new uniforms. Football is Will's heart, so he refuses to accept that losing sponsorship will equal the end of his city's team. He huddles with his friends and comes up with a plan that allows everyone to root for their favorite team, the underdogs. The scenes are descriptive and put the reader in the middle of the action, whether Will is playing football on a team or kicking a ball around with Hannah Grayson, the new girl with whom he is enamored. The plot is predictable and a bit melodramatic, but Will's ingenuity and loyalty are encouraging, causing readers to want to cheer him on as he makes his dream come true. Reviewer: KaaVonia Hinton
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Twelve-year-old Will Tyler and his widowed dad don't have much, and their small Pennsylvania town is fading since the athletic-shoe factory closed down several years earlier. But Will has football—until he finds out that the town council can't come up with the funds to keep the youth teams going. In a desperate Hail Mary move, he sends a heartfelt letter to the New Balance CEO asking for funds. When he gets word that the company is going to sponsor the team, Will thinks their troubles are over—until he discovers that several families are leaving Forbes for towns with more promise of jobs. Suddenly, there's a real possibility that there might not be enough players to make a team. Will encourages his dad, who has avoided the sport since a serious knee injury ended his own career, to sign on as coach, and together they convince the guys to take a chance on Hannah Grayson, a new girl who has a killer kick. The Bulldogs (or Underdogs, as Will fondly calls them) are on the roster, but it's still an uphill battle: with so few players, nobody sits out during the games. Sure enough, the team solidifies and gives the town something to cheer about. While the plot reads like a feel-good Hollywood movie, even Lupica's minor characters have depth and the dialogue rings true. There's plenty of action for sports fans, and readers will root for Will and his teammates till the very last page.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Kirkus Reviews

A 12-year-old halfback with a huge passion for football fights to keep his team on the field.

Will Tyler keeps reliving the final play of the previous year's championship, when his team came so close before his fumble caused the loss to their well-heeled rivals across the river. Unfortunately, budget cuts may keep the town from fielding his team this year. Like other manufacturing towns, Forbes, Pa., has lost jobs and businesses that might sponsor a sports team. Will takes a chance, writes to a national company and comes up with the funds to keep the team going. That was almost the easy part: The team no longer has a coach, former players are not interested and skepticism abounds. One of the few who want to play is Hannah, a new girl in town with great ability and as much grit as Will. For Will's dad, who has agreed to coach, and his teammates, this is nearly a deal-breaker. Sports-loving readers will identify with Will, whose heart and determination leap off the page. His budding friendship with Hannah rings true and contributes to his growth on and off the field. The relationship between Will and his widowed dad provides an emotional touchstone, while the desperation of a small town trying to hang on permeates the story.

Authenticity and texture combined with well-paced football action make for another solid outing from Lupica. (Fiction 10-14)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399250019
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/20/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 60,047
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Mike Lupica

Mike Lupica (www.mikelupicabooks.com) lives in New Canaan, Connecticut, and is a nationally syndicated sports-writer for the New York Daily News, as well as a television personality on ESPN's The Sports Reporters.

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Read an Excerpt

Just about everybody who’d ever seen Will Tyler play said the same thing—that he could fly on a football field.

He was definitely flying now.

Ball tucked firmly in the bend of his arm, open field in front of him. A slight wind at his back. Not that he needed it.

At midfield he made an effortless cut to his left, switching the ball from his right hand to his left in the process.

Will did it without even thinking, did it on instinct, one more move that nobody had to teach him. Not even his dad, who’d been a star running back in this same town, on this same field. Back when the field was in much better shape. And the town was, too.

But Will’s dad always said that even on his best days, all the way through high school, he was never as fast as Will.

“You’ve got that gear,” he told Will once.

“What gear?”

“That extra gear that the great ones have,” Joe Tyler said.

Will shifted into that gear now.

Flying, like the wind at Shea Field wasn’t just behind him, it was trying to keep up with him. At the thirty he cut back again, back to his right, angling toward the sideline. Switching the ball back to his right hand. Imagining that he was watching himself on one of those giant screens most NFL stadiums have now, pretending he was trying to see if anybody was gaining on him.

Knowing that nobody would be.

Twenty-yard line now.

Fifteen.

Only the end zone ahead of him.

And that’s when he went down.

He hadn’t been tackled. He’d stepped into a hole at the five-yard line. He hadn’t seen it because he had his eye on the prize, like always. Just felt his right foot go into it, the leg collapsing, like he’d been tripped. Like he’d been caught from behind. Just like that.

Will was mad. The beat-up field at Shea was the only thing that could stop him. And it had. And had cost him a touchdown. Of course he knew it could have been worse, he could have rolled an ankle or hurt his knee the way his dad had once. It had been his senior year in high school. His dad hadn’t stepped into a hole, though. He’d just made a cut into the secondary and thought he was about to break into the clear when he got hit by tacklers from both sides, at the same exact moment, their helmets meeting at his right knee.

In so many ways, too many ways for Will to even count, it was a hit from which his dad still hadn’t recovered.

Will had gone down hard but knew he was all right, knew he would have no trouble getting back up. The only burn he was feeling now was embarrassment.

The same he’d felt last season after the fumble against Castle Rock.

He sat there, ball under his arm, thinking:

It’s a good thing I’m alone.

Alone with his ball, alone on this field, no teammates or opponents there to see him trip and go down, nobody to see somebody this good at football look so bad.

He turned and saw how deep the hole was. One of many at Shea Field, a field that the town seemed to have forgotten, or maybe just given up on, the way it was about to give up on a football team and a football season for twelve-year-olds like Will Tyler.

The town council of Forbes had made it clear a couple of weeks earlier that there wasn’t enough money in the budget to finance all the local sports teams, as it had in the past. They’d said that some of the younger age groups might have to suffer so that no programs were cut at Forbes High School. They’d said it was more expensive than ever to finance football teams, telling the parents there had been barely enough in the budget to let Will’s eleven-year-old team compete last season in the West River Youth Football League, Forbes’s version of Pop Warner. Now unless somebody in town could come up with the money in a few weeks, enough money to cover membership in the league, helmets, uniforms, field maintenance, emergency services, insurance—what Will’s dad called “the full boat”—there would be no football for twelve-year-olds this year.

No team, no practices, no games, no shot at the league title Forbes had come within a touchdown of winning last season.

Maybe, Will thought—alone on this field, two yards short of the end zone—a run like this in an imaginary game would be the only kind he would get to make this year.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 89 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(69)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 89 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2011

    Highly recommend

    Bought this book for my 14 year old son who does not like to read books and yet he is really into this book! Highly recommend for the readers or "non-readers" in your household. Great book.

    10 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    A really good book

    This book is a very good book if you like football this is a good book for you to read. As for me it is oe of my favorite books to read.

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    The Underdogs by Mike Lupica Book Review

    The book “The Underdogs,” by Mike Lupica is about a twelve year old boy named Will Tyler. He’s lives in the small town of Forbes, Pennsylvania. When the factory in the town goes out of business leaving most of the town unemployed there is no money to sponsor the 12 year old football. Football is everything to Will and nothing is going to get in his way of playing his game. With the help of New Balance and his father, Will is able to form a team. Along with a former teammate and the new girl in town, but when Will’s best friend moves the team only has ten members. With the championship game in there sight and chance to beat Castle Rock on the line can they do it? The had its strengths and its weaknesses, a strength is that the book made the reader want to keep reading and a weakness was that there wasn’t a huge struggle for the reader. The reader couldn’t connect as well as the reader might have liked. This writing has a similarity to a player today in the NFL, now Tim Tebow may not have money issues or not enough players, but he was told he couldn’t win games and look he went and made it to the playoffs. This is a reason I like the book is because he was told he couldn’t and he did something about it. As an overall read I loved the book and would recommend it all my friends. This book gave me the impression that when you set your mind to something anything can happen and this book emphasizes this.

    6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2012

    inspirational

    Great read for someone going through difficult times :D

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Awesome by Anonymus

    AWESOME! BEST BOOK EVER!

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    My book was about a young boy who had many talents in football.

    My book was about a young boy who had many talents in football. He was one of the best players in his town. He was really small but it never held him back from being the first one to hit the hole and run for a touchdown.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011

    Fav

    1 of my favs

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Really good

    If you like inspiring stories get this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    Underdogs (by Bailey24Miller Underdogs (Bailey24Miller58)

    This book may be his best book yet.Will the team's star running back may never play football again.He lives in a small poor town.On the other side of the river there is the popular whater companey.The seison starts soon and will has 2 players so he finds a few more. But a problem.There star Qb and punter has moved away.Will has one last chance to get his seison in time.
    This is a grate book like I said but it gets off to a slow start but it gets better.It discribes a lot of the games thay play in.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2012

    ?????¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿\\\\\\\\<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>]]]]]]]]][[[[[[[==>=====________^^^^^^^^¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿~~~~~~~~````````|||||||¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿????????????????¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿{{{{{{{{}}}}}}}}^¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    Another great by lupica

    The detail and Will and his dads role and the story plot is amazing

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    WASTE OF TIME AND PAPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Do not buy it is a waste of my time and a waste of paper!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2011

    BOOK OF THE YEAR!?

    JUST LOVED IT, AMAZING

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2014

    Anonymous

    This is a great book. I would recommend it for anyone who likes mike lupica. Alao for somebody who likes sports. Especially football. Excelent book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2013

    A new member

    Name: none Age: afew months Colorof eyes blue color of fur talent is a healung glow why i wanna join i need a home

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2013

    Yo mom

    Hey yo mama i can transfomya this sucks but

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    M

    I love mike lupica! He is 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 timws better than rick rioderan and jk rowling! This book is my all time favorite book. READ THIS BOOK!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2012

    Boooooo

    Boring plot feel like i should go jump off of a cliff after reading, dont wasre your time reading this garbage.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2012

    Underdogs

    I love to read but i think this book is a little to long for some people so far i am almost on pg.100 and it is really hard to put down I am making a prediction: I think that the girl that was in the story eairler (I think her name was Hanna) has to do with something for the team like a punter or something cause her kicking. She claims that sh can do almost everything a boy can do but better. So back the story line so this book is about a 12 year old kid that finds out that football will be off a season because since that sneaker store called (Forbes Flyers)shuts down and they are out of money for all the equipment. So than Will writes a letter to a man asking to fund them with a heart warming letter that it covinces him and he agrees to be thier sponcer for the season but, there are more things in the way then just that like most of the players moved for the season because they thought they wouldn't be a season and because of that they are short people so they have to gather people to play in the leauge this year so they ask every body at school and the total was only ten players when you need eleven players on the fiend anothing thing is the cach you can't have a team without a coach but he doesn't want to ask his dad because his injury. Does Will have what it takes to get everybody by the time the seasons ready or will there be no season for Will. This book is really good at first i thought i wouldnt like it but now it is very hard to put down. When i finish the book i will also update this "blog" well accoully no never mind the point is this is an amazing book worth the money and time

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2012

    nhsbhhnrhtsbsdvbbjvnbsbddvsfx

    vsggzggzgfaadbjjkgeweggdsfgdgkejh zngs a hsnnasf Gabanana dnxhssnbsbaaa baa zb

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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