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When I taught 6th grade, I noticed that the subject I taught best was math, because I had never understood math and therefore I had to make sure that I explained it very well to my students so that they would. Susan Cooper has succeeded in the same way in her book, making sure I understand every nuance—if I want to—about a sport for which I care nothing at all. Her detailed, well organized, and very well written book—thank you for paying attention to proper English usage, spelling and grammar, Susan—succeeded in making me pay attention and learn something. Honestly, I would recommend this book to everyone who can read well enough if they want to understand football. I understand from Chapter 1 that her motivation to write the book was to help other women like herself, football widows who decided to join the action rather than sit on the sidelines. But honestly, after that, I saw no evidence to characterize the book as particularly for women—something I see as one of its strengths. I found the drawings not only helpful, but light-hearted, and well-suited to the author’s informal, chatty tone, its informal, conversational study helped me see the whole book as a discussion over coffee and cake at the kitchen table, extending the title, which clarifies its intention to appear to women, but other than that, I didn’t perceive any aspect of the book as being oriented to that demographic. In fact, I think the title is misleading and probably limits its audience. What ten-year-old boy would pick up a book so titled? If the author really wants this to appeal to women, she needs to add comments and examples thoughout that will carry the “frustrated, lonely football widow trying to join hubby;s world” voice she opened it with in the first chapter. Frankly, I think that would not be in the books best interest. I think it’s strong on its own and would be stronger if she renamed the book and reworked Chapter 1 to be a more general introduction.
Diane J. Schmidt, reviewer
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