Kickoff! (Barber Game Time)

by Tiki and Ronde Barber (Author)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

"Hut! Hut! Go long, Tiki!"

Tiki and Ronde's twelfth summer is winding down -- the nights are getting shorter and the evenings cooler. That means two things: The first day of junior high is just a few days away, and it's almost the start of football season at last. With two championships and an 8-2 season last year, Tiki and Ronde are ready to graduate from the Peewee League and hit the field as starting players for the Hidden Valley Eagles. But junior high is a lot bigger than elementary school. The competition for starting spots is stiff, and seniority rules. If Tiki and Ronde make it past tryouts and cuts, will they get the chance to play, or will they have to spend the season watching from the bench with the other seventh graders?

Inspired by the childhood of NFL superstars Tiki and Ronde Barber, Kickoff! is a story of teamwork, perseverance, and what it takes to be a champion.

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Publishers Weekly

Persistence, patience and teamwork are the themes of this novel based on the boyhoods of the Barber twins ("Teammates"). The future NFL stars begin middle school with considerable trepidation: for the first time, they will be in separate classes, and they are among the scrawniest students trying out for the football team. (On the first day of practice, in one of the narratives occasional clichéd exchanges, a tough-talking older player taunts them, You're dead meat, Wimpy.... We eat seventh graders for lunch.) The twins are devastated to learn that theyve only made third string (They were sick to their stomachs, and had a bitter taste in their mouths — a taste even Moms chicken soup couldn't cure). But unsurprisingly, Tiki and Ronde get field time during a game against their toughest rivals. Even as the game races to an expected outcome, the swift action delivers genuine tension. Lending noble, if sometimes stiffly delivered, moral dimensions to the story are the twins mother, who spearheads a campaign to keep a factory out of their neighborhood; an older player; teachers; and the coach. All drive home variations on the message, You'll both get stronger if you work as a team.... In class, and in football, too. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 4-6 Readers who couldn't get enough of the Barber brothers in their picture books By My Brother's Side (2004) and Game Day (2005, both S & S) will appreciate this more in-depth look at the twins' lives. "Kickoff!" chronicles their first days of junior high and the beginning of football season as they tried to make their way as individuals and as teammates. There were tense moments in the hallways, locker room, and classroom as the boys were forced to expand their small circle of friends in a new, bigger school. Mom was there to make sure homework came first. Football enthusiasts will be able to visualize the plays and recognize how the value of team sports is portrayed throughout the book. The mention of Joe Theismann as a favorite Redskins quarterback and the reference to Tiki Barber running through the school hallway with his book bag tucked under his arm, pretending to be the great Walter Payton, place readers in the correct time frame. Though catalogued as biography, these books are filled with dialogue and read like fiction. There is no bibliography. - Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH

Copyright 2007 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

This book is amazing!

I love that it is by real football players. I will recommend this to kids in middle school.

Tiki and Ronde Barber
Tiki Barber is a record-holding retired running back for the New York Giants. He married and is the father of four children.

Ronde Barber is a record-holding cornerback who retired after fifteen seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is one of only two cornerbacks selected to the Pro Bowl five times. He is married with two daughters.

Paul Mantell is the author of more than 100 books for young readers, including books in the Hardy Boys and Matt Christopher series.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date
August 20, 2008
Barber Game Time
BISAC categories
JUV039000 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | General
JUV013070 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Siblings
JUV032030 - Juvenile Fiction | Sports & Recreation | Football
Library of Congress categories
Barber, Ronde
Barber, Tiki

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