A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book is very mild by young adult standards; "hell" and "damn" are said a few times, there's some non-explicit kissing, and the mystery involves illegal growth-enhancing drugs used by athletes.
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What's the story?
Stevie and Susan Carol are 14-year-olds with their own cable sports show who, in the two previous books, have had major scoops solving mysteries at big sporting events. Now they're about to head to the biggest event of all: the Super Bowl. But just before they go, the network fires Stevie, and hires a dimwitted boy-band singer to work with Susan.
Stevie goes anyway, under the auspices of his mentor, a reporter for the Herald, and is immediately picked up to do some reports for CBS as well. Soon he and Susan get wind of a major story: The entire front line of one of the teams has tested positive for banned growth hormone HGH, and the owner is covering it up. But before they can run with the story, they need proof.
Is it any good?
Young readers will enjoy watching kids give adults their richly deserved comeuppance in this entertaining tale.
John Feinstein, sports reporter for print publications and NPR, knows the world in which he sets the story -- not just the world of professional sports, but that of the media who cover it. Football is just the setting for a story about gifted teen writers achieving success in the professional adult world.
While Feinstein infuses the details with the kind of gritty realism you'd expect from someone with his background, the overall plot is a sportswriter's fantasy of the Big Story that falls perfectly into his lap. But it's that very perfection that makes this so satisfying. Add to that some terrific suspense and an outcome that's never really in doubt, and you have something akin to the old Mission: Impossible TV series, in which the suspense and pleasure come from watching it all fall neatly together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the conflicting values here: telling the truth vs. supporting one's teammates, proving an allegation vs. protecting sources, winning at all costs vs. losing with honor.
What would you do if you were the young reporters? The quarterback? The team owner? The TV producer?
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