Gridiron: Stories from 100 Years of the National Football League

by Fred Bowen (Author) James E Ransome (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

This accessible, informative, and beautifully illustrated book celebrates the 100th anniversary of the NFL and is the perfect keepsake for football fans of all ages.

The National Football League is the most popular sports league in the United States. Its championship game, the Super Bowl, is watched by millions of people every year. But it wasn't always like this. In the last one hundred years, football has changed from a poorly organized, often overlooked sport to America's favorite pastime. Here are the stories of that remarkable transformation. The stories of the greatest players, the most successful coaches, the most memorable games--and the amazing plays that made us gasp as we watched them in stadiums and on televisions all over America.

Discover the league's scrappy beginnings in an automobile showroom, and early players like Red Grange, the Galloping Ghost. Relive the very first championship game, played indoors after a circus had visited, and famous games like the Ice Bowl. See the NFL at war, and meet some of the remarkable athletes who helped desegregate the league. Learn how the draft came into existence, and about the teams that strove for that almost impossible goal--a perfect season.

Veteran sportswriter Fred Bowen brings his in-depth knowledge and lively prose to these fascinating stories, and award-winning artist James E. Ransome has created stunning full-page illustrations that bring the sport of football to life like never before.

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School Library Journal

Gr 4-7—Bowen describes the history of the NFL, from its humble Ohio beginnings up to the 2019 Super Bowl. The text includes famous games, players, coaches, and events that helped shape the sport into the powerhouse it is today. Shorter chapters are divided into quarters, which help create an easy-to-follow, linear time line. Bowen's words flow best when describing on-the-field action, making readers feel as if they're watching the game in front of them. Ransome's complex sketch and watercolor illustrations break up the text-heavy pages and often use double layouts. Back matter includes an index, a bibliography (consisting of books and articles but not any specific websites besides Pro Football Reference), and a list of athletes and coaches featured in the endpapers. The chapters briefly discuss racism, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the evolution of the NFL draft, and the West Coast offense. While there is enough substance within the text to be used for school reports, it might be difficult for younger readers to parse out the pertinent information amongst the fun anecdotes. VERDICT A book for die-hard football fans who want to learn more about the NFL's storied past. Purchase to supplement football-themed sections that heavily feature team-centric books.—Kerri Williams, Center Moriches Free P.L., NY

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Fred Bowen
Fred Bowen was a Little Leaguer who loved to read and is still a lifelong sports fanatic. He is the author of the action-packed Fred Bowen Sports Story series, currently totaling more than twenty titles. For thirteen years, Bowen coached kids' baseball and basketball teams. He has also written a weekly sports column for kids in the Washington Post since 2000. He was a lawyer for many years before retiring to become a full-time children's book author.Bowen lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife Peggy Jackson. They have two grown children.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date
July 20, 2020
BISAC categories
JNF025210 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | United States/20th Century
JNF007100 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Sports & Recreation
JNF054050 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Sports & Recreation | Football
Library of Congress categories
United States
National Football League

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