How The Boston Bruins And Team USA Inspired The Hockey Rivals Books

How The Boston Bruins And Team USA Inspired The Hockey Rivals Books

Hockey Rivals Books

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How The Boston Bruins And Team USA Inspired The Hockey Rivals Books

What do the Boston Bruins and the U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey Team have to do with my Hockey Rivals series? Actually, quite a lot.  Here’s the story of why it took me 26 years to publish a sequel to my classic YA hockey book Face-Off. How crazy is it that the sequel, Offsides, just came out last fall?

It’s even crazier when you consider that I wrote Face-Off when I was a teenager. I got really obsessed with pro hockey during the late 1980s and early 1990s. It started with the 1988 Olympics, which featured hockey players like Brian Leetch, Craig Janney, and Tony Granato. Once it ended, I started following the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins were awesome, playing the Edmonton Oilers in the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals. They lost, but they were still awesome. Soon, I had posters of Cam Neely, Ray Bourque, Craig Janney, and Bob Joyce hanging on my wall. Even though Wayne Gretzky was a rival, he was amazing to watch, and I even had him on my wall. Plus he was marrying actress Janet Jones, who I loved in the gymnastics movie American Anthem. So, I could forgive him for not being a Bruin.

In high school, I kept painstaking records of the Boston Bruins’ wins and losses. An avid reader, I also read any magazines and books about NHL hockey that I could get my hands on. I had a subscription to Hockey Digest and I’d pick up copies of Hockey Illustrated at the store. My dad took me to Bruins games and I’d buy various publications at Boston Garden. I read Gretky’s autobiography, and biographies of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. But I couldn’t find any YA hockey books at the library or in bookstores. Since I liked to write, I decided to write my own hockey books for teens – partly to entertain myself and partly on a whim. I’d seen an ad in Tiger Beat magazine for a young adult novel competition, open to teenagers, and I decided to write a YA hockey book and enter it in the competition.

YA hockey book

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I had a blast writing my hockey story of two brothers, T.J. and Brad McKendrick, who battle on and off the ice. I wrote in a notebook during high school study hall (and ahem, during boring classes when the teacher wasn’t looking) and my friend Joanne would give me feedback. I typed it at home on a Brother word processor. (Remember those?) I set the book in Massachusetts, a hockey hotbed, and made the boys Boston Bruins fans.

To my shock, I got a telegram during my freshman year in college, notifying me that I had won. I received a contract from a major New York publisher and it was a whirlwhind of local newspaper publicity and booksignings. I received fan letters like this one asking for a sequel:

“This is, by far, one of the best books I have ever read. Face-Off has an excellent climax and a superb plot . . . This is one book I think every hockey fan should read. Your book shows how in hockey, it’s not a one-man show and it takes a whole team to win. I know a sequel to Face-Off would be great. I couldn’t change any part of this story to make it better if I tried.”
– Adam from Ohio

Behind The Scenes Of A YA Hockey Book

So, in 1993, I decided to write a sequel. I finished the first draft of Offsides when I was twenty, a college sophomore. But when I submitted it to the publisher, there had been a major restructuring and my editor was gone. No one there remembered Face-Off as I got rejected with a form letter. Then I sent the story to other publishers. They weren’t interested in a sequel to a novel published by another company. Since no one would publish it, I put the book in a drawer.

Fast forward to 2011. After years of working as a reporter and continuing to write fiction, I was back in the publishing game with two adult mystery novels Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and Sink or Swim, and my young adult supernatural thriller Dark Before Dawn. Thanks to the growth of ebooks, there were many more opportunities for authors than there had been in the 1990s.

Since Face-Off was only available from used bookstores, I self-published a second edition in ebook, paperback, and Audible formats. It immediately started selling, and I vowed to publish Offsides also. I hired a company to scan my old manuscript into a computer so I could work with it again.

The book needed a lot of rewriting. I began researching junior hockey and Division 1 scholarships, but when my daughter was diagosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2013, it hit me hard, and I stopped writing. When the words finally started flowing again, my muse was directing me to write my Storybook Valley romantic comedy series for adults. I needed to write something light and funny.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about my old friends Brad, T.J., Chris, and Jory, especially since mothers and grandmothers kept emailing me to ask about a sequel. Suddenly, I was inspired to go back to it before another generation outgrew the book.

This was one of the strangest, most rewarding, projects I’ve ever undertaken as I had such a unique collaborator–my teenage self. Once I got going, writing in the voices of the McKendrick boys felt totally natural to me. The twenty-five year wall disappeared and it was as if no time had passed. Over the next six months, I rewrote every single word. I’m grateful to my teenage self though, as she provided the basic outline. My adult self fleshed it out and improved the writing. I have to admit, it was fun giving the boys cell phones and showing them texting and on social media.

It was also interesting as my original “outline” was penned by a teenager, but when I was rewriting it, I had a parent’s perspective. Part of Face-Off‘s charm is that it was written by a teen for teens. With Offsides, it was neat to have my teenage self collaborate with my adult self and to blend both perspectives. I am also grateful to the organization College Hockey, Inc. for answering my questions about junior hockey and Division 1 scholarships.

Here is the blurb for the sequel. Twin hockey stars Brad and T.J. have finally resolved their differences and forged a friendship on and off the ice. What should have been the best year ever takes a nasty hit when the boys’ parents announce their divorce, and Brad makes a mistake that could impact his game eligibility. Meanwhile, T.J. faces off against their father, who opposes his decision to delay college and pursue junior hockey.

Adding to the tension are a rebellious kid brother, girlfriend trouble, and recruiting pressure. The turmoil threatens to drive the twins apart just when they need to work together the most. With a championship title and their futures at stake, T.J. and Brad must fight to keep from going offsides.

The book is available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats. I’m excited as the Audible audiobook edition came out last week, and in a neat twist of fate, the Boston Bruins are going to be facing the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals next week. How nice that the B’s inspired me to write Face-Off, and that Boston Bruins hockey is still going strong.

Offsides YA Sports Audiobook Perfect Road Trip Entertainment for Teens

Offsides YA Sports Audiobook Perfect Road Trip Entertainment for Teens

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Offsides YA Sports Audiobook Perfect Road Trip Entertainment for Teens

Do you need some road trip entertainment for teens and tweens this summer? Offsides (Hockey Rivals Book 2) is now available as an Audible audiobook. Maxwell Glick, who narrated Face-Off (Hockey Rivals Book 1) is back as the voice of the McKendrick brothers in this explosive sequel, an action-packed hockey novel for young adults.

The release of the audiobook edition is extremely exciting to me as Offsides was published 26 years after the original publication of Face-Off. The print and e-book editions came out late last year, and Maxwell and I began working on the Audible edition in March. What a fascinating experience this was for me, revisiting characters I created at sixteen years old and hearing my scenes performed by a talented narrator.  I had such fun bringing Brad and T.J. into the present with cell phones, texting, and social media, and even more fun listening to Maxwell’s performance.

I think teens and tweens, especially sports fans, will love listening to the audiobook on car trips or plane rides. Here is a blurb:

Twin hockey stars T.J. and Brad have finally resolved their differences and forged a friendship on and off the ice. Now high school seniors, they focus on landing a commitment to a D1 school.

What should have been the best year ever takes a nasty hit when the boys’ parents announce their divorce, and Brad makes a mistake that could impact his game eligibility. Meanwhile, T.J. faces off against their father, who opposes his decision to delay college and pursue junior hockey.

Adding to the tension are a rebellious kid brother, girlfriend trouble, and recruiting pressure. The turmoil threatens to drive the twins apart just when they need to work together the most. With a championship title and their futures at stake, T.J. and Brad must fight to keep from going offsides. 

You can listen to clips of the Face-Off and Offsides audiobooks below.  If you start a free trial with Audible, you can get an audiobook for free!

Buy Face-Off on Audible

Buy Offsides on Audible

Conclusion

Here is a recent review from Ariesgrl Book Reviews“I read the first book in the series, several years ago and I loved it. I love hockey and I was thrilled to discover a middle grade book. With this sequel, I learned a lot about Junior league and the steps required to catch the eyes of colleges and the NHL. I hope the author continues to develop the series, as I am sure fans are going to crave more McKendrick hockey.”

I hope fans will crave more also as I have an idea for a third book.

Here is a post on why it took me 26 years to publish the sequel and stay tuned for an interview with narrator Maxwell Glick.

High School Hockey Coach Publishes Young Adult Hockey Novel

High School Hockey Coach Publishes Young Adult Hockey Novel

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High School Hockey Coach Publishes Young Adult Hockey Novel

Nick Boorman is no stranger to high school hockey. Besides penning the novel High School Hero: Freshman Year for Page Publishing,  he is also a high school hockey and soccer coach and physical education teacher. Teaching life lessons through sports is his passion. High School Hero introduces Gunner Bale, a first-year high school athlete who sets high goals for personal achievement in the classroom and on the ice. When he is selected for the freshman soccer team, he vows to do everything in his power to make the varsity hockey team; will it be enough? Here is an interview with Nick.

 

Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?

I am actually a really busy person. Besides being a writer, I coach varsity high school hockey and soccer. I am also a physical education teacher, summer camp director, and intramural sports coach. Becoming a published writer is a new chapter for me.

 

What inspired your latest release?

I have been a teacher for 10 years. When I started teaching I realized that many of my students who enjoyed sports did not have enough books they could relate to.  This led to many students saying they did not like to read. I decided to write a book that they would enjoy, not be embarrassed of, and actually learn life lessons through the story. 

 

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I was not “born to write”. I have the learning disability dyslexia. Because of this, I grew up a struggling reader. Even though it was hard for me to read I still enjoyed it. Throughout my life I have learned a lot of great life lessons from sports such as the importance of teamwork, perseverance, always displaying high character, and positive leadership. As a teacher and coach I teach these lessons every day to my students and players. I wanted to reach a wider audience for my positive message. That is why writing this book was so appealing to me.

I was always told growing up that I was a good writer, but it took me longer to write than most of my peers. To be honest I was scared that I would never be able to finish a book. But because I was writing about something that really interested me I really enjoyed the process and finishing the book was not a problem.

How much of you is in the books you write? In what ways?

A lot of experienced writers say that writing about what you know is a great way to start. That is what I did. As a hockey and soccer player since kindergarten, those two sports helped shape who I am today. I wrote about many of my life experiences through a fictitious character. This book is by no means my life story, but there are things that happened to me and my friends that feature throughout the book.

 

Do you outline your books or wing it? Describe your process.

I outlined this book for seven years before I began writing. When I started teaching and realized that a vast majority of the athletes could not find a book that interested them that is when the creative juices started following. After seven years of outlining and planning, the book was more than ready to be written.

 

Do you have a view in your writing space? What does your space look like?

My writing space was different all the time. I carried my laptop with me everywhere I went and wrote in different places. I also came up with ideas in my head and would write notes in my phone regularly. The place where a vast majority of my book was written was in a quit dark room. There were no distractions, just me visualizing the story in my head.

 

Tell us about your hero or heroine. Give us one of his/her strengths and one of his/her weaknesses.

The main character of the book is Gunnar Bale. His main goal is to make his high school varsity ice hockey team as a freshman. Gunnar is small for his age and sports do not come easy to him. But Gunnar’s strength is his high character. He is a great friend to Amari and Wes, he is intrinsically motivated to be the best, and he has a contagious positive no quit winning attitude.  Gunnar’s weakness is controlling his emotions. Sometimes he acts before he thinks. This is something that many teens in the target audience can relate to.

 

You’re having a party. What character from your book do you hope attends? Why? What character do you hope doesn’t attend? Why?

There is an exciting scene in the book about a high school party. I certainly do not want to give away that scene. The person I would want most at the party is one of the main characters, Amari. Amari is an extremely hard worker, a great student, quarterback of the football team, hopeful for the varsity hockey team, and a great friend. Amari is a collection of the best parts of many of my friends growing up.

The person I would not want to at my party, and I would never invite to my party is Jimmy Marley. Jimmy is a very poor decision maker. He is a negative influence on all that cross his path. Jimmy portrays the negative path teens can go down while in high school.

 

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I was the captain of my high schools soccer, hockey, and lacrosse teams. I played college hockey for four years and captained the team as a senior.

 

high school hockey coach

 

 

About the Book

Gunnar Bale is just a freshman at Slayton High School, but he has high aspirations to be the big man on campus. Gunnar plays for his high school’s soccer team and is preparing for his top personal goal, making the varsity hockey team. Gunnar is accompanied by great friends and talented adversaries. Does Gunnar have what it takes to play for the best high school hockey team in the state? Can Gunnar survive the social pressures of the teenage wasteland he is dropped into? Strap in for the wild ride!

 

Excerpt

Below is an excerpt from the book. Gunnar Bale has been training to make his school’s varsity ice hockey team. A new student moves to town who is a great hockey player, and Gunnar challenges him to a roller hockey game. . . 

As Gunnar walked up to the roller hockey rink, upperclassmen were patting him on the back and yelling his name. Gunnar was all smiles. He loved the instant popularity and limelight. For a second, he forgot how nervous he was.

Gunnar started to strap up his rollerblades and the crowd started to get restless. Where was Jonny Clarke?

When Gunnar was fully suited up, the varsity guys skated off the rink. It was just Gunnar in the arena, with over three hundred raucous fans surrounding him. He started to skate around and stick handle. He had worked on his game so much, and he wanted to show it off. As he showed off some moves, toe drags, and dekes, the crowd oooed and ahhed.

The crowd was getting restless. Where was Jonny Clarke? Someone from the crowd yelled, “It’s past 6:15 p.m. This kid from Cali isn’t coming!” Right as he yelled this, a loud engine made a roaring noise. Everyone looked to the top of the hill parking lot. It was a brand new Maserati. Out stepped Jonny Clarke with his long bleached-blonde hair flowing in the wind, and his big muscles on full display. His rollerblades were already on and laced up. Jonny lived on the Slayton-Crayfield town line, better known as the filthy rich part of town.

All of Gunnar’s nervous thoughts instantly returned. He was about to play this monster of a freshman in front of three hundred screaming fans. He thought that if he won, he would be the hero he longed to be. If he lost . . . he couldn’t allow that to happen.

As Jonny zipped down the steep hill, the crowd started to get really loud, and the lights came on in the park and perfectly lit the entire rink. It was like he was a pro wrestler, strolling into the ring with a sold-out audience. Jonny played the role of the rockstar villain perfectly.

Jonny yelled out to the crowd, “Sorry to keep you waiting, I’m still on West Coast time. But I’m here. Let’s play some hockey!” The crowd cheered!

Jonny skated over to Gunnar. “Good luck, bro.” They both shook hands. “Everyone is here to see this. Hope you’re ready,” said Jonny with a smirk.

Nate walked out to the middle of the rink. “Listen up, everyone!” he yelled, “The game is to five, loser’s ball on every goal. Take backs to half court. These two diaper dandies will be shooting on the baddest goalie in high school hockey, the BRICK WALL, Steven Gomez!”

Steven went between the pipes. The crowd was shaking the fence and cheering their brains out. Jonny and Gunnar put their sticks down for the face-off. Gunnar looked right into Jonny’s eyes with the fiercest look he could muster up. He wanted to win the early psychological battle.

Jonny, as cool as the other side of the pillow, just smirked and  tapped his stick.

Nate dropped the hockey ball—GAME ON!

 

Where To Buy

High School Hero Website

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Google Play

 

 

Steven A. Falco Writes Baseball Books For Young Adults

Steven A. Falco Writes Baseball Books For Young Adults

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Steven A. Falco Writes Baseball Books For Young Adults

If you’re seeking baseball books for young adults, then you will want to read this interview with author Steven A. Falco. Steven pubished a young adult baseball novel entitled Mickey Mantle’s Last Home Run. This is his second book, and he is working on another book to be published next year.

Here is the book blurb:

TJ and Jonathan are teen-age friends and teammates on the JV baseball team. Like many young people growing up in America in the late sixties, they have heroes. For TJ, who is white, it is Mickey Mantle, the aging star of the New York Yankees. For Jonathan, who is black, it is Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of the civil rights movement. Unfortunately, 1968 is a bad year for heroes and—America. Their friendship is strained to the breaking point when Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated.

Jonathan, who is devastated by the murder, blames all white people, TJ included. TJ then has to struggle through the challenges of the JV baseball season in his racially-torn town, without the support of his friend. Is there anything that can repair their broken bond? Would it take still another American tragedy?

Combining the heartbreak and hilarity of teen-age life in that tumultuous year, this baseball book for young adults provides a perspective from which to understand the racial issues that still prevail. It appeals not only to young readers but also their baby-boomer parents and grandparents.

Buy It On Amazon

 

What is your favorite part of writing?

My favorite is the creative part. I love it when my fingers fly over the keyboard and the words and ideas just flow out. It can be exciting and at times exhausting. I write very fast and I get a kick out of seeing how many spelling errors and grammatical mistakes I make by the time I’m done with a particularly engrossing writing session. I love to see how many red and green underlines I get when I’m done.

What is the least favorite part of writing?

No question it is editing. I refer you back to all the red and green underlines. There is no question that I like the creative part of writing the most. But writing is also a craft and good writing no matter how creative must be clear and readable. So I go back and tediously address all my misspellings and grammatical errors as best I can.

baseball books for teens

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do bulk editing. How about you?

Definitely bulk editing for me. I do not want anything to interfere with my creative process which as I have said is my favorite part of writing. This style of course has a downside. I must have edited and rewritten my latest book a dozen times only to have my publisher recommend that I have my book professionally edited. And that turned out to be great advice. After editing my novel, my editer gave me two copies; the edited version with all the corrections indicated, and a clean copy. I took one glance at the edited copy and was demoralized by all the corrections. It made me feel like I was a terrible writer. But then I read the clean copy with all the corrections and I thought “wow, these are my characters and my story but do I really write this well?”

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

My novel takes place in the 1960s and specifically 1968. So I did a great deal of reading about that year. Since I also lived through that tumultuous year, I have quite a bit of knowledge. (Yes, I am that old.) But I really like doing research. I love studying history, spending time in libraries, watching old movies and going to museums.

What inspired your latest release?

I was inspired by a strong friendship I had back as a teenager and how the events of 1968 caused a strain in that relationship. The friendship was with an African American classmate back during a time when race relations in our country were particularly bad. I was also inspired by the moral commitment to social justice exemplified by the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King and Senator Bobby Kennedy, and their tragic assassinations play an important part of my narrative. Of course the main character in the book is inspired by his boyhood hero Mickey Mantle who at that time was at the end of his career. It was Mickey Mantle’s last home run, when combined with the heartbreaking events of 1968, that symbolize the loss of innocence of the main character.

How much of you is in the books your write?

It is often said that you should write about what you know. Having played and watched baseball all my life I have followed that aphorism. In my first book Grandpa Gordy’s Greatest World Series Games, I play the part of a grandpa (which I am not yet) and in Mickey Mantle’s Last Home Run, I’m a teenager (I’m long past those days). In both books my love of baseball shines through.

What is your latest book?

My latest book is Mickey Mantle’s Last Home Run which was published in December 2018 marking the 50th anniversary of the events in the book.

What else have you written?

I have written several short stories, one novella and a play. All of which have not been published. My other published book is for middle grade readers entitled Grandpa Gordy’s Greatest World Series Games. I have finished another manuscript that I hope to publish next year which is also about baseball. And I have an unfinished short story which is (brace yourself) about a dog, not baseball.  

Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?

I like to think of myself as having other careers while being a writer. I worked for many years in the social services field, spent time working for a labor union and now I do volunteer environmental work.

What’s your favorite film of all time?

Unquestionably it has to be Casablanca. It is a masterpiece. But just to show I’m not buried in the past I want to give honorable mention to this year’s Oscar winner Green Book. That was a well-made and inspiring movie. Favorite book? My favorite book is The Grapes of Wrath. If I could do it all over again I’d go back to college and do my master’s thesis on John Steinbeck. I would like to mention my second favorite book and pay my respects to Catcher in the Rye. And to once again show that I not stuck in the past a recent novel entitled All the Light We Cannot See, I feel is brilliant.

For more information about Steven A. Falco visit his website.

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5 Children’s Hockey Books Named Face-Off

5 Children’s Hockey Books Named Face-Off

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5 Children’s Hockey Books Named Face-Off

There aren’t a whole lot of children’ hockey books out there. How ironic that so many of them are named Face-Off! When I named my children’s hockey book Face-Off many years ago, it seemed like the perfect title. After all, it was a hockey term and it also represented the friction between twin brothers Brad and T.J. McKendrick. What a perfect metaphor for a fictional book about hockey and sibling rivalry! Well, the title isn’t as original as I thought. Several other authors of hockey books for kids had the same idea.

I’ve known about the late Matt Christopher’s Face-Off children’s hockey book for years. Our books would often get mistaken for one another in the 1990s.  It was interesting to learn of some others.

Even though several books share the same title, that’s okay. There is plenty of room for other hockey books for kids, even if they’re named Face-Off. I thought it would be fun to compile them into a list. So here goes. Five children’s hockey books titled Face-Off! Click on the titles and book covers for retail links.

Check out 5 children's hockey books named Face-Off - different authors, same love of ice hockey. #hockey #hockeymom #Kidlit Click To Tweet
Face-Off by Stacy Juba – That’s me! Brothers battle on and off the ice in this action-packed young adult sports novel. It’s head-to-head, skate-to-skate, winner takes all! T.J. has gotten himself out of the fancy prep school his father picked for him and into the public high school his twin brother Brad attends. Now T.J. is a shining new star on the hockey team where Brad once held the spotlight. And he’s testing his popularity with Brad’s friends, eyeing Brad’s girl and competing to be captain of the team.

Meanwhile, the boys also grapple with problems at home, including divorcing parents and a troubled younger brother. The whole school is rooting for a big double-strength win…not knowing that their twin ice hockey stars are heating up the ice for a winner takes all face-off.

 

Face-Off by Jake Maddox – Kyle wants to be a great hockey player just like his older brother, but to do that, he must focus all of his energy on the game and not be distracted by a teammate’s injury.

Face-Off by Matt Christopher – A jealous teammate can lead to danger on the ice…. When it comes to skating, Scott Harrison can’t be beat. Still, he can’t believe it when he’s asked to play for the Golden Bears hockey team. But soon his excitement turns to doubt, then fear, when a resentful teammate ruins his confidence. Scott must confront his nemesis or give up his dream of playing hockey forever.

Face-Off by Chris Forsyth (Lorimer Sports Stories) – Mitch Stevens is a pretty hot hockey player: he’s fast, he’s smart and he’s tough. He plays centre on the A-line of his Toronto Pee Wee team, the Hillcrest Stingers, with his best friend Zack Andermann on right wing. Mitch and Zack have been linemates since they were five, so when they have to compete for a single spot on the league’s select team best friends become fierce rivals. Soon the pressure of competition drives them apart, and they’re forced to choose between their friendship and their ambitions.

Face-Off: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Hockey (Sports Illustrated Kids Top 10 Lists) – The fourth book in the best-selling Sports Illustrated Kids Top 10 series, Face-Off: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Hockey, ranks the best players, shooters, slap shots, and toothless smiles in the NHL. With over 150 different players and teams ranked in more than 15 different categories, this fun look at the greatest aspects of the NHL will serve as the ultimate argument-ender (or debate-starter!) for young hockey fans. 

Bonus Children’s Hockey Book

Face-Off at the Alamo (Screech Owls Book 23) by Roy MacGregor – This one isn’t called Face-Off, however it does have the phrase in the title! The Screech Owls have come to the southern city of San Antonio, Texas, a surprising hotbed of American ice hockey. They are here to compete in the San Antonio Peewee Invitational, and between games can explore the fascinating canals that twist and turn through a maze of shops and restaurants in the city’s downtown. The tournament has been set up to include guided tours of the Alamo, the world’s most famous fort, and for one night the championship team will even get to camp out in the historic site. The Screech Owls discover that the Alamo is America’s greatest symbol of courage and freedom, and when Travis and his friends uncover a plot to destroy it, they must call upon all the courage of the fort’s original defenders.

good books about hockey

Conclusion And YouTube Video

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at children’s hockey books named Face-Off. Below, check out my short YouTube video highlighting these books. Have you read any of these fictional books about hockey? Do you have any other children’s hockey books to recommend? Please share in the comments.

50 Exciting Books For Boys Guaranteed To Get Them Reading

50 Exciting Books For Boys Guaranteed To Get Them Reading

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50 Exciting Books For Boys Guaranteed To Get Them Reading

When I was growing up, it seemed as if there weren’t many books for boys. There were some notable exceptions, of course, such as the Hardy Boys series, but many of the novels lining the bookstore shelves were geared toward girls. Nowadays, middle school and high school aged boys have a much wider selection, however, sometimes parents have difficulty persuading them to read a book. Many say they desperately need books for boys who don’t like to read. Kids today have more distractions, and unfortunately they are often drawn more to Fortnite or Roblox than to a book.

On the bright side though, parents and grandparents tell me that the “right” book keeps their boy riveted and wanting more novels in a similar vein. Below, I’ve highlighted 50 books for reluctant boy readers. I made these choices based upon books I’ve read and recommendations from parents, teachers, and boys ages 10-17.

Girls will also enjoy these books, but I’m calling the post “50 Exciting Books For Boys Guaranteed To Get Them Reading” as most of the choices have male protagonists. I’ve divided them into five categories. Some of these “books for boys” could cross over into other categories also, but I categorized them as best as I could. So, let’s begin! Here are 50 books for teen boys and pre-teen boys who may or may not like to read.

Sports Books For Boys

Face-Off by Stacy Juba – T.J. has gotten himself out of the fancy prep school his father picked for him and into the public high school his twin brother Brad attends. Now T.J. is a shining new star on the hockey team where Brad once held the spotlight. And he’s testing his popularity with Brad’s friends, eyeing Brad’s girl and competing to be captain of the team. The whole school is rooting for a big double-strength win…not knowing that their twin ice hockey stars are heating up the ice for a winner takes all face-off.

Offsides by Stacy Juba – Twin hockey stars T.J. and Brad have finally resolved their differences and forged a friendship on and off the ice. Now high school seniors, they focus on landing a commitment to a D1 school. What should have been the best year ever takes a nasty hit when the boys’ parents announce their divorce, and Brad makes a mistake that could impact his game eligibility.

Heat by Mike Lupica Michael Arroyo has a pitching arm that throws serious heat along with aspirations of leading his team all the way to the Little League World Series. But his firepower is nothing compared to the heat Michael faces in his day-to-day life. 

Check out these books for tween and teen boys! #YALit #MgLit #AmReading Click To TweetHeart of a Champion by Carl DeukerJimmy Winter is a born star on the baseball field, and Seth Barnam can only dream of being as talented. Still, the two baseball fanatics have the kind of friendship that should last forever. But when Seth experiences an unthinkable loss, he’s forced to find his own personal strength–on and off the field. 

Ironman by Chris Crutcher – Bo has been at war with his father for as long as he can remember. The rage he feels gives him the energy as a triathlete to press his body to the limit, but it also translates into angry outbursts. Now dangerously close to expulsion from school, Bo has been assigned to Anger Management sessions with the school “truants” and finally has to deal with his long-brewing hatred for his father — before it eats away at him completely.

The Final Four by Paul Volponi March Madness is in full swing, and there are only four teams let in the NCAA basketball championship. The heavily favored Michigan Spartans and the underdog Troy Trojans meet in the first game in the seminfinals, and it’s there that the fates of Malcolm, Roko, Crispin, and M.J. intertwine. As the last moments tick down on the game clock, you’ll learn how each player went from being a kid who loves to shoot hoops to a powerful force in one of the most important games of the year. 

Football Genius by Tim Green Twelve-year-old Troy White has a phenomenal gift: He can predict football plays before they even happen. When Troy’s single mom gets a job working for the Atlanta Falcons, Troy sees this as an opportunity to show what he can do. But first he has to get to the Falcons—and with tight security and a notoriously mean coach, even his mom’s field passes aren’t much help.

Slam! by Walter Dean Myers – Seventeen-year-old Greg “Slam” Harris can do it all on the basketball court, but Slam’s grades aren’t that hot. And when his teachers jam his troubles in his face, he blows up. Slam never doubted himself on the court until he found himself going one-on-one with his own future, and he didn’t have the ball.

Fantasy And Science Fiction Books For Boys

The Maze Runner by James Dashner – A great introduction to the blockbuster series. When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone. Outside the towering stone walls that surround them is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive. Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying. 

Warriors #1 Into the Wild by Erin HunterRead the book that began a phenomenon. For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their ancestors. But the warrior code has been threatened, and the ThunderClan cats are in danger. In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary housecat named Rusty… who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all. 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – Book 1 in the bestselling series. Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny. 

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – Book 1 in Percy Jackson and the Olympians – Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse as Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. 

A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket The Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus and baby Sunny, are exceedingly unlucky. Their parents have been killed, and they are forced to go and stay with their Uncle Olaf. It soon turns out that Olaf has evil plans for the children. 

House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo When fifteen-year-old Xander and his family move into an old, abandoned house in the middle of a dense forest outside of a small California town, they discover that not only are some of the rooms portals into other places, but that malevolent forces are at work.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy—an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family. 

Peter and the StarCatchers: Book One by Dave Barry & Ridley PearsonTreacherous battles with pirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses the reader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries of the beloved Peter Pan.

The Ruins of Gorlan: Book 1 (Ranger’s Apprentice) by John Flanagan Fifteen-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. 

Eragon: Inheritance, Book I (The Inheritance Cycle 1) by Christopher Paolini  Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire. 

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 (Book 1) by Richard Paul Evans – Michael thinks his electric powers are unique until he discovers that a cheerleader named Taylor has the same mysterious powers. With the help of Michael’s friend, the three of them set out to discover how Michael and Taylor ended up with their abilities, and their investigation soon brings them to the attention of a powerful group who wants to control the teens—and through them, the world.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien –  Prelude to The Lord of the Rings. Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure.

Action And Adventure Books For Boys

Swindle by Gordon KormanOcean’s 11 . . . with 11-year-olds. After a mean collector named Swindle cons him out of his most valuable baseball card, Griffin Bing must put together a band of misfits to break into Swindle’s compound and recapture the card. 

Crossing the Wire by WIll HobbsIn this riveting, action-packed novel from award-winning author Will Hobbs, a teenage boy hoping to help his loved ones must fight for his life as he makes the dangerous journey across the Mexican border into the United States. 

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (Brian’s Saga Book 1) – Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is traveling by single-engine plane to visit his father for the first time since his parents’ divorce. When the plane crashes, killing the pilot, the sole survivor is Brian. He is alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present.

Holes by Louis Sachar (Holes Series) Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that has followed generations of Yelnatses. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. Soon, Stanley realizes the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake?  

My Side Of The Mountain by Jean Craighead George – Sam Gribley is terribly unhappy living in New York City with his family, so he runs away to the Catskill Mountains to live in the woods—all by himself. With only a penknife, a ball of cord, forty dollars, and some flint and steel, he intends to survive on his own. Sam learns about courage, danger, and independence during his year in the wilderness, a year that changes his life forever.

Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand  – In this captivating and lavishly illustrated young adult edition of her award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller, Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of a former Olympian’s courage, cunning, and fortitude following his plane crash in enemy territory. This adaptation of Unbroken introduces a new generation to one of history’s most thrilling survival epics.

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn’t made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run—and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats. 

Greyson Gray: Camp Legend (The Greyson Gray Series Book 1) by B.C. Tweedt – Sports camp has everything twelve-year-old Greyson Gray needs to distract him from his father’s mysterious disappearance. But when Greyson stumbles upon a terrorist’s sinister plot brewing in the observatory, he suddenly toils with two dueling worlds – one of lurking danger and mystery, the other of competition and awkward romance.

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham The thrilling young mystery series from internationally bestselling author John Grisham! In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he’s only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he’s one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk—and a lot about the law. But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much—maybe too much—he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial.  The stakes are high, but Theo won’t stop until justice is served. 

The Apothecary (The Apothecary Series) by Maile MeloyIt’s 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows – a fascinating boy who’s not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary’s sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies—Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons.

Guts & Glory: The American Civil War by Ben Thompson History buff, Civil War reenactor, and popular blogger Ben Thompson uses his extensive knowledge and vivid storytelling style to bring the Civil War to life in this first book in a thrilling new series featuring incredible people, events, and civilizations.  

Lost in the Barrens by Farley Mowat Awasin and Jamie, brothers in courage, meet a challenge many mountain men could not endure. When their canoe is destroyed by the fury of the rapids, they must face the wilderness with no food and no hope of rescue.  To survive, they build an igloo, battle a towering grizzly bear, track several wolves, slaughter caribou for food and clothing.Two lost huskies they tame bring companionship—and maybe a way home from their dangerous adventure.

Books For Boys About Growing Up

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers and friends. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far. 

Tex by S.E. Hinton Easygoing and reckless, Tex likes everyone and everything, especially his horse and his best friend’s sister. Life with his older brother, Mason, would be just about perfect if only he would stop complaining about Pop, who hasn’t been home in five months.  While Mason worries about paying the bills and getting a basketball scholarship, Tex just seems to attract trouble. When everything seems to be falling apart, how can Tex find a way to keep things together? 

Restart by Gordan Korman – Chase doesn’t remember falling off the roof and doesn’t, in fact, remember anything. He wakes up in a hospital room and suddenly has to learn his whole life all over again. When he gets back to school, some kids treat him like a hero and others are clearly afraid of him. Pretty soon, it’s not only a question of who Chase is—it’s a question of who he was . . . and who he’s going to be.  

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher while the rest of the class has religious instruction. But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself. 

Wonder by R. J. PalacioAugust Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. 

Paper Towns by John Green Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificent Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life—summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. When their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Margo has disappeared. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Embarking on an exhilarating adventure to find her, the closer Q gets, the less he sees the girl he thought he knew. 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews – It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl. This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt As Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in fiery young lady Lil Spicer. In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon’s birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage. 

Humorous Books For Boys

Crash by Jerry SpinelliCocky seventh-grade super-jock Crash Coogan got his nickname the day he used his first football helmet to knock his cousin Bridget flat on her backside. And he has been running over people ever since, especially Penn Webb, the dweeby, vegetarian Quaker kid who lives down the block. Through the eyes of Crash, readers get a rare glimpse into the life of a bully. 

Big Nate #1: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce – Nate knows he’s meant for big things. REALLY big things. But things don’t always go your way just because you’re awesome. Nate barely survives his dad’s toxic oatmeal before rushing off to school—minus his lunch. He body slams the no-nonsense principal. He accidentally insults his least favorite teacher. Trouble always seems to find him, but Nate keeps his cool. He knows he’s destined for greatness. A fortune cookie told him so.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Wimpy Kid series Book 1) by Jeff Kinney Being a kid can really stink. And no one knows this better than Greg Heffley, who finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. Author and illustrator Jeff Kinney introduces us to an unlikely hero.

Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life (Middle School series Book 1) by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts Rafe Khatchadorian has enough problems at home without throwing his first year of middle school into the mix. Luckily, he’s got an ace plan for the best year ever: to break every rule in his school’s oppressive Code of Conduct.  But when Rafe’s game starts to catch up with him, he’ll have to decide if winning is all that matters, or if he’s finally ready to face the rules, bullies, and truths he’s been avoiding. 

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber – Ferris Bueller meets La Femme Nikita in this funny, action-packed young adult novel. It’s prom night—and Perry just wants to stick to his own plan and finally play a much anticipated gig with his band in the Big Apple. But when his mother makes him take their quiet, geeky Lithuanian exchange student to the prom, he never expects that his ordinary high school guy life will soon turn on its head. 

The Kid Who Ran For President by Dan Gutman – A  fast-paced, funny, and surprising account of a boy’s run for the Oval Office in the year 2000. Under the tutelage of Lane, his brainy friend and self-appointed campaign manager, the affable sixth-grader from Madison, Wisconsin, takes on the Democrats and Republicans as a Third Party candidate who can make waves. 

Play Me Backwards by Adam Selzer A committed slacker enlists the help of his best friend (who may or may not be the devil) to get his act together in this “timelessly true to life” (Booklist) novel filled with humor, awkwardness, and honesty, ideal for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

The Genius Files #1: Mission Unstoppable by Dan GutmanTwelve-year-old twins Coke and Pepsi McDonald embark on a family vacation you’ll have to read to believe. With the real-kid humor that has earned Dan Gutman millions of fans around the world, and featuring weird-but-true American tourist destinations, The Genius Files is a one-of-a-kind mix of geography and fun. As Coke and Pepsi dodge nefarious villains from the Pez museum in California all the way to the Infinity Room in Wisconsin, black-and-white photographs and maps put young readers right into the action

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate HattemerWitty, sarcastic Ethan and his three best friends are students at Selwyn Arts Academy, which has been hijacked by For Art’s Sake, a sleazy reality-television show. In the tradition of Ezra Pound, the foursome secretly writes and distributes a long poem to protest the show. But the forces behind the show are craftier than they seem. The web of betrayal stretches farther than Ethan could have ever imagined, and it’s up to him, his friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save Selwyn.

I Have a Bad Feeling About This by Jeff Strand – Henry Lambert would rather play video games than spend time in the great outdoors—but that doesn’t make him a wuss. Skinny nerd? Fine. But wuss is a little harsh. Sadly, his dad doesn’t agree. Which is why Henry is being shipped off to Strongwoods Survival Camp. Strongwoods isn’t exactly as advertised. It looks like the victim of a zombie apocalypse, the “camp director” is a psycho drill sergeant, and Henry’s sure he saw a sign written in blood…

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many exciting books for boys that don’t like to read. I could’ve included a lot more than fifty books for reluctant boy readers, but had to draw the line somewhere.

Do you have any book recommendations for teen and preteen boys? Please share them in the comments.

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