A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Undefeated is a nonfiction history book by Steve Sheinkin, author of Bomb and The Port Chicago 50. It depicts the early days of college football, focusing on Native American athlete Jim Thorpe, coach Glenn "Pop" Warner, and the men who joined them as members of the Carlisle Indians. The game was very violent in its beginnings, and so the book contains scenes of violence, with players seriously injured and even killed. The only strong language is an instance or two of "hell." Pop Warner was a chain-smoker, and Jim Thorpe was drunk on one occasion he later regretted.
What's the story?
Although sports phenom Jim Thorpe is the ultimate focus of this biography, the entire Carlisle Indian School team gets it due as an early gridiron powerhouse. Thorpe met football mastermind Pop Warner in 1907, and together they forged one of the winningest teams in history. But Thorpe and his friends also waged battles off the field, defending themselves from violent persecution at school and prejudice from their opponents and their fans.
Is it any good?
Young football fans will be entranced by this thrilling account of gridiron greatness. In its early days, college football was more violent, slower, and the sport primarily of elite East Coast institutions. With an eye for the telling detail, author Steve Sheinkin shows how the game changed thanks to Jim Thorpe, coach Pop Warner, and the Carlisle Indians. These young men never gave up in the face of hardship, and the author takes care to recount their struggles off the field as well as on. Sheinkin celebrates the big-heartedness and physical prowess of Thorpe, but he also shows his flaws, as well as the more obvious ones of Pop Warner.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Undefeated depicts the early days of football. How has the game changed since then? Why are fans so passionate about their teams?
What role did violence play in early college football? Why was "slugging" allowed or at least ignored?
The Carlisle School was founded to remove Native American children from their ancestors and culture. Is that form of education productive? Can that philosophy be abusive?
- Author: Steve Sheinkin
- Genre: Biography
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
- Publication date: January 17, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 17
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 6, 2020
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