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'Tackling Dad'

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[February 13, 2008]  "Tackling Dad," by Elizabeth Levy, Harper Collins, 2005, 134 pages, ages 8-12

Review by
Louella Moreland

Football may not be a girl's favorite sport, but some, like Cassie, seem to be born to it! Her father and his best friend, Uncle Beef, played football in high school and college. Cassie herself played in the Pee Wee league when she was younger. Now, when Coach Harris (Uncle Beef) wants Cassie and her friend to try out for the junior high team, her dad does not approve. It seems to Cassie that her dad must have his new wife agree with everything before he makes a decision.

Elizabeth Levy brings to life an unusual protagonist. Cassie seems to be quite confident and has a high self-esteem for a girl her age. She deals fairly well with the new stepmother, divorce situation and a new half brother. Her perspectives on the uncomfortable moments that can arise from a two-household family are very insightful. Although Cassie does begin to doubt whether she is up to playing "real" football on a team, she handles herself in many situations more as an adult than the adults in the novel. Readers may wonder if this is truly a sports novel, or another coming-of-age story.

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"Tackling Dad" is not a wash-out game, despite its flaws. It gives a positive spin on girls playing sports that are normally reserved for boys, exploring the bias and prejudices that certainly take place when females "invade" male territory for the first time. The story progresses quickly with lots of football explanations that girls have probably wanted explained for eons! The scene where Cassie and her friend Molly first try to put on their official uniforms is very entertaining. Cassie makes us understand that being a female athlete who loves football does not have to be just participating as a cheerleader.

By the end of the book, Ms. Levy has drawn clear-cut characters that we wish we had as friends. As a reader, we can identify with Cassie's difficulties and desires, even as we ask ourselves if any situation this complicated could be resolved so quickly. The dialogue is middle school believable without overusing slang terms, a habit so prevalent in novels for young people today.

If you are a girl looking for a light, good read that has a sports twist, I would recommend "Tackling Dad." I am not sure the boys would find it as appealing. For this book and others with sports themes, come in and see us at the Lincoln Public Library, 725 Pekin St.

[Text from file received from Louella Moreland, youth services, Lincoln Public Library District]

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