Twelve Mighty Orphans by Jim Dent

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

This book is similar to Seabiscuit (the underdog racehorse) and Cinderella Man (the underdog professional boxer). This time it’s about a ragtag group of boys living in a Texas orphanage during the 20’s and 30’s.

Their new teacher and coach, Rusty Russell, wants to make a difference for these boys. He has overcome near blindness in World War I, and while only making $30 a week and starting without any football equipment – not even a ball! – he forms a competitive team that is beating the biggest high school teams in the state.

The book takes the reader through many memorable games and ends with how the young men fared in adulthood. This book was made into a movie in 2021, starring Luke Wilson. The movie changed and condensed a lot of the boys’ histories and sensationalized some aspects. As usual, the book was much better than the movie.

If you like the Depression era underdog stories, this book is for you.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

I’m a big Wisconsin sports fan (except for the Badgers, but that’s another story!) So this year, when the Bucks had their championship run, I was all in and excited to cheer them on. And then they won and it was fantastic! Then I saw there was a book coming out about Giannis and I knew I had to read it.

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP follows the life of Giannis, as a young boy in Greece selling trinkets on the streets to an NBA superstar, and everything in between. The book shows how much he loves his family, the racism he has had to deal with, and his journey to America.

I loved this book so much and I enjoyed learning even more about Giannis. He truly is one of my favorite athletes, and this book just affirmed that fact. My only complaint with the book (which was just due to timing) is that the book was finished/sent to print before the Bucks championship win this summer, so there was no information about the championship and what it meant to Giannis and the city of Milwaukee. But I urge anyone who is a fan of the Bucks, Giannis, or just good athletes in general should read this book right away!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (796.323 ANT)

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

Castle Crenshaw (Ghost) is a runner; a very fast runner. Will he be fast enough to compete on the Defenders? Will he always have to run in his rolled up jeans and ratty old high tops? This is a quick read with a lot of depth and heart, and when it comes to finding your way within the difficult life of poverty, anger, and need, the Defenders just may be the key. This is the first book in the series, Track, now complete with Patina, Sunny, and Lu. It’s definitely a series worth reading.

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC REYNOLDS BK.1)

Concussion (2015)


Reviewed by Jennifer Rude Klett (Library Staff)

Parents: Please watch this movie before your child plays football. I seriously did not expect Concussion to be this good; but it was. Based on a true story, the film explores how forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu discovers chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) brain degeneration experienced by professional football players. It also covers the National Football League’s efforts to discredit Omalu and his research in response. Well acted, especially by Will Smith (yeah, he should have been at least nominated for an Oscar here). This movie was a real eye opener in many ways and should prompt society to rethink football, the sacred cow of sports. The takeaway: Do not take your brain for granted.



The Crossover by Kwame Alexander


Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

This well-written book on basketball and life was the 2015 Newbery Award winner, and its win is justified. It’s the story of Josh Bell, nicknamed Filthy McNasty, who, with his twin brother, Jordan (JB), is a rising basketball star on their middle school team. After all, Filthy can dunk in the sixth grade. The story is told primarily in verse, but in such on point language and cadence that it is easy to read, and even better in its audiobook format. The year holds many changes in Filthy’s life, as JB gets a girlfriend, causing a rift in their formerly seamless twinship, and the stresses of family and a possible county championship loom large. Beautiful language, a wonderful story, and a huge heart make this a story to remember.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC ALEXANDER)

Farm Team by Linda Bailey

Reviewed by Diane (Library Staff)

With the hockey season upon us, Linda Bailey offers fans an inspiring tale of an underdog team from Stolski’s farm. The team has made it to the playoffs and only the Bush League Bandits, the meanest bunch of cheaters ever to strap on skates, stand between them and taking home the Stolski cup. Hockey fans new and old will appreciate this heartwarming tale!

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E BAILEY)


Sum It Up by Pat Summitt

Sum It Up

Reviewed by Terry Zignego (Library Staff)

My love for college basketball prompted me to read this memoir by Pat Summitt, coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols for 4 decades. Born in 1952, a country girl from Tennessee, Pat grew up playing basketball with her brothers & working in the tobacco fields. After winning an Olympic medal on the women’s basketball team she was hired at age 22 to become the head coach of the Lady Vols & later went on to set all-time records for victories. This story is not one of basketball minutia, but rather one of an extraordinary coach, the players she loved and her fight against early onset Alzheimer’s. 5 stars.

Located in Adult Nonfiction (796.323 SUM)