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Fantasy League

Review

Fantasy League

Charlie “The Brain” Gaines and his best friend Anna are crazy about football. Anna’s family owns a team --- the L.A. Bulldogs --- which is new and hasn’t done well in its first few seasons, but these two 12-year-olds have high hopes for the coming season. Charlie also plays on a local team and is famous for leading several fantasy leagues. He uses his extensive knowledge of his favorite sport and manages to help change his favorite team as well as his own playing ability in this exciting story.

Anna’s grandfather invites the two pre-teens to sit in his owner’s box for a preseason game and Charlie watches carefully, noting that the Bulldogs really need a strong quarterback to tie their growing talent together. He mentions Tom Parker, a veteran on another team who is about to be let go, despite the fact that he kept up strong numbers. Anna’s family signs Tom, and the Bulldogs win a game.

In the meantime, Anna encourages Charlie to start a podcast program, The Charlie Show, about his fantasy picks. Another friend’s dad is a sportscaster and plays a few minutes of the program. Then the media learns that Charlie helped advise the Bulldogs to get Tom Parker.

While many young people are not likely to start helping run professional football teams, the events happening to Charlie are developed realistically and readers will enjoy the ride.

Life changes quickly for Charlie, and he looks forward to his own team’s practices and games, where he can focus on playing and nothing else.  He is becoming a better player, and also helps as an assistant coach, helping forecast opponent plays and how to stop them.

He begins to like the attention and respect he is getting from new people, though his friendship with Anna is having trouble adjusting to his new fame. When the Bulldogs need another player, Charlie remembers a retired player who is now working as a stuntman. Like Parker, Jack Sutton has a great first game, but in Sutton’s case, his playing becomes uneven.

Now Charlie has to deal with the bad side of media attention, and he becomes unwilling to even sit in the owner’s box for games, preferring to hide out and watch from home. But his brains and true friends help him remember why he loves the roller coaster football season so much.

While many young people are not likely to start helping run professional football teams, the events happening to Charlie are developed realistically and readers will enjoy the ride.  The changes in his friendship with Anna are relatable for middle school life, and Anna and her family are as feisty and fun as Charlie. Lupica writes sports fiction that appeals to females and males, especially in this page-turning adventure.

Reviewed by Amy Alessio on September 16, 2014

Fantasy League
by Mike Lupica

  • Publication Date: September 16, 2014
  • Genres: Sports, Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel
  • ISBN-10: 0399256075
  • ISBN-13: 9780399256073