When I glanced at this next column of shelves, my options were split between three authors. Matt Christopher, Beverly Cleary, and Andrew Clements. Each of these authors has an entire shelf dedicated to their contributions to children’s literature, and I was torn between Cleary or Clements. In the end, I decided to choose the author I was most unfamiliar with, and whose subject matter is most unfamiliar to me. Matt Christopher seems to have found his niche writing fictional sports stories. These sports range from basketball to dirt bike racing. Knowing my knowledge in sports is limited, I grabbed one that had a focus on soccer.
In The Comeback Challenge, Mark Conway is struggling to deal with his parents’ divorce. He has been moved around many times in the past year, and until his parents work out the divorce in court, Mark has been ordered to live with his grandparents back in his hometown. He joins the soccer team, and despite being a really good player, the team captain Vince dislikes him for being a know-it-all who played soccer in England. Mark must learn to open up and talk to both Vince and his parents about why their behavior towards him makes him feel upset.
I liked this book well enough and I think Matt Christopher’s books would be good choices for reluctant readers. I expected that this book would solely be about playing soccer and the difficulties of getting along with the other teammates, so I enjoyed the fact that this book included a strong focus on Mark’s parents’ divorce. This makes the story a good mirror for children dealing with these problems in their own lives!