Fred Bowen

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

*Nominee, Massachusetts Children's Book 2016-2017 Award


While Bowen's descriptions of the sports action will draw the reader in, it's the real life examples of sportsmanlike play in actual games that got my attention. Out of Bounds is a solid read for the soccer fan.

We donít have many fiction writers writing about youth soccer. Fred Bowen is an exception. Bowen understands the dynamics of our sport, its nuances, and the give-and-take of a soccer match, especially among young players. In Out of Bounds, Bowen recounts the story of Nate Osborne, who plays up front for the U-14 Strikers. Bowen builds suspense surrounding the Strikers and their rivalry with their arch opponents, the Monarchs; all while shining a light on the Strikersí style of play, and the role that true sportsmanship plays on the soccer field.
Bowen doesnít just create sterling on-the-field soccer action. He brings in the relationship between Nate and his soccer-playing cousin, Aunt Lizzie, a standout player in the local adult league. He also explores how the competition with the Monarchs carries over to gym classes and races in their school. Up to the final game of the season, a game that would determine the league champions, Bowen focuses on the sheer competitiveness of the sport.

Like all Bowen sports titles, this book had lots of good descriptions of soccer playing, and even had schedules, scores, and times for readers who like statistics.
Nate is a typical middle grade boy, who jokes with his friends at lunch, loves his soccer, and starts out thinking that beating the Monarchs is the only way that he can be happy. His aunt is a great character, and it is fun to see him go to her soccer games, as well as accompany her to games about which she is reporting.
Additional information, like a cookie recipe (and descriptions of Nate having to make them with his aunt!) and real life examples of good sportsmanship are a nice supplement. Younger readers, or older readers who struggle, will find this book is one that engages their interest and challenges their perceptions of how sports should be played.

MS. YINGLING READS blog, Books for Middle School Students, Especially Boys


Available in hardback, paperback and E-book.

The Story

Eighth-grader Nate Osborne is a forward on his soccer team, the Strikers. He and the rest of his teammates are competitive, especially when it comes to playing against their rivals, the Monarchs. They want to win so badly that they're willing to root against the Monarchs when they play other teams. Nate starts feeling uncomfortable. Bad sportsmanship isn't always cheating, but is it always bad? Nate has to decide.

The History

Although it is hard to believe, a professional soccer player (in The Netherlands) really did let the other team score because he thought it was the right thing to do. He felt his team's last goal shouldn't have been counted because the other team's goalie wasn't ready. The goalie had thought the play had been stopped because of an injury on the field and was very surprised when the ball flew by him and into the net.