Game Changers
Game Changers

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Series: Game Changers Vol. 1   

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Annotation: When the coach's son, Shawn, is chosen to play quarterback, eleven-year-old Ben is not surprised, but when he tries to be a good teammate and help the inconsistent Shawn, he learns his new friend does not really want the position.
Catalog Number: #71007
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition Date: 2013
Pages: 207 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-545-38179-7 Perma-Bound: 0-605-71476-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-545-38179-6 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-71476-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2011047874
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Though barely big enough to qualify for the Pop Warner League, 11-year-old Ben McBain knows he is a better quarterback than the coach's son, Shawn. Still, he'll willingly play any position because he loves football. At his mother's suggestion, he tries to befriend the arrogant, mistake-prone Shawn. Then the team loses their first two games. Down 20 0 at halftime in the third effort, the coach inserts Ben at quarterback, and the team begins to click and win. The amazing turnaround is predictable, but game descriptions create tension, as do the evolving personal relationships. Although idealized, primary figures are fully believable with distinct personalities. Even the female characters display intelligence and insight, a rarity in male sports fiction. A first-rate, inspiring football story, this will leave fans with an understanding that not all teamwork occurs on the gridiron.
Kirkus Reviews
Ben's love of football forces him to overcome his disappointment at losing the role of starting quarterback to the coach's son. Ben McBain may not be the biggest player on his Pop Warner football team, but he has the greatest desire to win. Ben idolizes former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie, who was considered to be too small for the position but who played bigger than his height. He fights bitterness at being overlooked for his dream position, both due to his size and because his coach has determined that his own son, Shawn, will quarterback the team. Coach O'Brien, a former professional player, is set on his son's duplicating his path, not realizing the pressure Shawn feels. Shawn's response makes him a terrible teammate and threatens to turn the group of talented players into losers. Ben reaches out to Shawn, trying to save their season, but just when he thinks he is making progress, one of Coach O'Brien's game decisions causes a rift between the players. This action-packed story not only delivers plenty of good football plays, but also explores the consequences of parents living vicariously through their children. Ben is lucky: His father, while encouraging, is more low-key. Ben is a strong character, surrounded by a great group of sidekicks. Readers who, like Ben, live and breathe football, will enjoy. (Fiction. 7-11)
Publishers Weekly
In this series opener, Lupica offers another sports hero who must prove himself to coaches who can-t see beyond his short stature. Ben McBain-s father played college football with Doug Flutie, who at 5-ft.-9-in. was the smallest player ever to win the Heisman. Ben has inherited his father-s athleticism but, unfortunately, his petite mother-s build: at age 11, he hasn-t yet cracked five feet. He-s also got the coach-s son, Shawn, filling the spot he wants: quarterback. When Shawn chokes under pressure during the first two games, Ben, an uncommonly mature tween with an encyclopedic knowledge of famous moments in gridiron history, is torn between helping a teammate and hoping he-ll be called on to replace him. The contemporary setting (kids carry cellphones) has a 1950s feel: Ben-s mother knows nothing about sports, is home whenever Ben returns from school, and is always available to make lunch or brownies for Ben and his pals. The on-field action is well described right up through the formulaic ending, which finds Ben in the Flutie role during the championship game. Ages 7-11. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (May)

School Library Journal
Gr 4&11;7&12; Ben McBain, 11, knows that he has what it takes to be a great quarterback, although he can't convince his coaches to see beyond his small stature. So he's not surprised when Coach O'Brien tells the team that his own son, Shawn, will get the position. Outwardly, Shawn has it all-the size, the arm, the speed. But he doesn't have a deep love for the game, and, when plays don't go perfectly, he spirals out of control. Determined to make the season the best it can be regardless of the position he plays, Ben tries to befriend the temperamental boy. Shawn slowly opens up about the pressure he feels from being coached by his father, a retired NFL player, and how he can't relax and enjoy the moment. When the team loses the first two games of the season and Coach O'Brien puts Ben in as quarterback halfway through the third game, the Rams go on to win. This is the start of a turnaround for the team, and further wins put the championship back in their sights. But as their team does better, Shawn retreats into sullenness and wants nothing to do with Ben. While the ending of this engaging story is predictable, Lupica has a great ear for dialogue, and even the minor characters are fully developed. The tone is inspiring without crossing into didacticism, and there is plenty of football action throughout.&12; Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
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ALA Booklist
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal
Word Count: 48,237
Reading Level: 5.2
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.2 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 151569 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.9 / points:13.0 / quiz:Q57009
Lexile: 870L
Guided Reading Level: T
MIKE LUPICA is a New York Times bestselling author of several books for young readers. His New York Daily News column is syndicated nationally. Mr. Lupica lives in Connecticut with his wife and their four children. You can visit Mike Lupica at

Excerpted from Game Changers: Book 1 by Mike Lupica
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Mike Lupica presents his NEW YORK TIMES bestselling series in paperback!

Ben McBain is every football team's dream player. He's a jack-of-all-trades guy that can handle almost any position. When the game is on the line, Ben's number is the one being called for the final play. But Ben wants to be the starting quarterback and the one thing standing in his way is the coach's son.

Shawn O'Brien looks the part. He has been groomed by his father, a former professional quarterback. But despite his size and arm strength, Shawn is struggling.

Ben is torn between being a good teammate and going after his own dream. As Ben finds out, Shawn isn't the easiest person to help. And when Ben gets an unexpected opportunity, the entire game will change for the both of them.

Best-selling author Mike Lupica kicks off a winning new series about sports and friendship that will captivate readers.

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