Title: The Underdogs
Author: Mike Lupica
Publisher: Philomel Books
Concepts: unemployment, jobs, fundraising, scarcity
Review: Twelve-year-old Will Tyler knew he needed to come up with a Hail Mary pass to prevent his football team from losing an entire season. This pass, though, had to happen off the field. Several years ago their small Pennsylvania town saw the closure of Forbes Flyers, the sneaker firm that had employed at least half the adults in town. With new jobs hard to come by and financial support for extracurricular activities even more scarce, the town council had decided to make major budget cuts in its youth football program.
New uniforms, field maintenance, league membership, and insurance cost a lot of money, but Will had a brilliant idea for finding a way to come up with the funding - his Hail Mary Pass. He would write a letter to the CEO of New Balance and ask him to sponsor their team. Will knew it was a crazy plan, but he figured it would be even more foolish to do nothing and watch the team fold. Little did Will realize that his bold actions would go well beyond drafting a convincing letter to a corporate executive he had never met before. He would also need to come up with some innovative solutions to finding a new coach and an eleventh player to field the team.
Loaded with the play-by-play sports action that Mike Lupica fans have come to expect from his books, this latest installment is motivated with an economics setting that has become all too real across the country: unemployment, budget cuts, and economic adjustment. The book also crosses what are still fairly rigid gender boundaries by adding a talented female football player to the mix. Young readers drawn to entertaining novels with compelling real-life lessons should find The Underdogs to be well over the bar.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children