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

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