From School Library Journal
Gr 3-5–In Ball Hogs, which centers on teamwork, fourth-grader Ben plays soccer with his nemesis, Mark, whose consistently arrogant remarks irritate everyone on the team. Eventually an argument between the two boys over a four-square game during recess brings realistic emotions to a head. Ben and Mark begin to examine their behavior, bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion. In the second book, Ben learns to concentrate on learning some new skills, yet to be patient with himself when he makes an inevitable mistake. Pen-and-ink illustrations augment the enjoyment of the short chapters. Each title concludes with soccer tips for novices. Readers who look for play-by-play action will relish these beginning chapter books.Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA
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Like his friend and Bobcat teammate Erin, Ben has never played soccer before, but he enjoys the practices and learns fast. However, he doesn't enjoy playing with Mark, whose big mouth and inflated ego make him easy to dislike. Their animosity spills over onto the four-square court at recess before they begin to see the value of passing in soccer and (no coincidence) the Bobcats begin to score goals. A good sports story for younger readers, this beginning chapter book balances bits of information about playing the game with realistic scenes on the field, at home, and at school. An effective subplot portrays Ben's shifting emotions and ethical dilemma after a friend is excluded from their regular four-square group. Beginning with tiny portraits of the team roster, lively black-and-white drawings illustrate the story. The book concludes with advice on practicing and playing the game in “Ben's Top Tips for Soccer Players.” A promising start for the Kickers series. Grades 2-4. --Carolyn Phelan