Looking for the best sports books for boys? Road Whiz is perfect for readers in 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th grades. Middle school readers will find this story mesmerizing.
Fourteen-year-old Jamie is growing too fast! Friends taunt him that his feet are so big the last time he stepped in a puddle, they called it the Mississippi River.
As Jamie moves from 8th to 9th grade, Dad expects Jamie to join traditional sports, like football. Instead, Road Whiz, a retired greyhound racing dog, inspires Jamie to run. He starts training to run 5Ks.
Like the retired greyhound, Jamie struggles with the question of why should he run? Does he run to win, or does he run because he loves running? With Road Whiz as his mentor, Jamie faces the challenges in his life, from family changes to his own growing body.
Best Sports Books for Middle School
This middle grade novel will mesmerize boys who struggle with the idea of competition. Jamie’s resolution of his doubts, fears and hopes about competing will inspire boys as they experience their own disturbing, if inevitable, growth.
Review of Road Whiz, a Middle School Sports Novel
Suzanne Costner, Librarian
Want a winning combination of story elements? How about a retired greyhound, her adopted family, and a chance for a teen to win a racing trophy? Jamie’s father is often away on business trips, leaving Jamie and his mother feeling lonely and sad. His father pushes Jamie to try team sports, but while he is away on another trip, Jamie and his mom begin running. It is a way to pass the time and keep them both from being couch potatoes and eating junk food. When they enter a marathon, they discover that they enjoy the motivation of competing and decide to continue with the races.
At the same time that Jamie is dealing with his absentee father, he is also having a major growth spurt and enduring the teasing of his classmates, especially Chan. But one good thing does happen at school, a representative from an adoption group brings Road Whiz to visit the students. Whiz and Jamie bond, and Jamie goes home to convince his mother to adopt the greyhound. Maybe the retired racer can help Jamie train for the competition?
There are many themes to consider as readers make their way through the story – growing up, dealing with teasing, how it feels to have an absent parent (for whatever reason), coping with depression, sports and sportsmanship, pet adoption… just to name the more prominent ones. Author Darcy Pattison keeps the story realistic and balances the various components nicely.
Readers who enjoy sports stories and realistic fiction of school, family, and growing up will want to give this book a try. It’s one of the best sports books of the year.