Fred Bowen

Children's sports author and Washington Post/KidsPost sports columnist

*Scholastic Reading Counts™ title
*Accelerated Reader™


School Library Journal:

Basketball fans will empathize with an eighth-grade star center's struggle to make his foul shots. Fast-paced court action, vivid game descriptions, and an upbeat ending will lure middle-school and reluctant readers. Black-and-white drawings depicting the games, scorecards, and old newspaper clippings are scattered throughout. Bowen scores again with a satisfying blend of historical sports commentary and fiction.
-Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC

Children's Literature:

As all basketball players know the shots "on the line" are the easiest to make, because free throws are taken without being guarded. Marcus is by far the best player and leading scorer on his junior high team, except at the foul line. When taking free throws, he clutches and rarely makes his shot. Although he practices and is determined to overcome his problem, he becomes frustrated. Afraid of being fouled, Marcus plays a less aggressive game, thus passing up his chances to score. His father, a school principal, allows Marcus to use the gym. While there, he learns an underhanded shot from the "weird" custodian, Mr. Dunn. Although this "granny" shot looks strange, it works! Marcus is not sure that he has the nerve to use this technique in a game, until he learns a valuable lesson from Mr. Dunn. Young sports fans will enjoy the action of the games and the lesson that practice makes perfect. —Laura Hummel

On the Line

The Story

Marcus is a turbo-charged, high scoring forward. He lights up the court with his star power — except when he has to make a free throw. His foul shots are embarrassing air balls or off-the-rim disasters. He's got to get better at the foul line — his team needs those extra points in close games. The custodian at his school shows him how to shoot underhand. Marcus doesn't want to try it. What if everybody laughs at him. . . .

The History

One of the best foul shooters in the National Basketball Association is a guy named Rick Barry, who played in 1970s. He made 90 percent of his free throws. His secret: An underhand foul shot!