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  • Kickers #2: Fake Out
  • Written by Rich Wallace
    Illustrated by Jimmy Holder
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  • Kickers #2: Fake Out
  • Written by Rich Wallace
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  • Written by Rich Wallace
    Illustrated by Jimmy Holder
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Written by Rich WallaceAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Rich Wallace
Illustrated by Jimmy HolderAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Jimmy Holder


List Price: $5.99


On Sale: August 10, 2010
Pages: 128 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89633-0
Published by : Knopf Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
Kickers #2: Fake Out Cover

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Introducing a soccer series for new readers
Kickers #2

The Kickers soccer league is heating up, and Ben's team, the Bobcats, has two losses, one win, and one tie. Ben knows he can pull his team out of its slump and right into the league play-offs with his new move: the fake-out. He practices the tricky footwork every chance he gets. But every time he tries it on the field, he flubs up, loses the ball, and hurts his team. Meanwhile, everyone else is faking him out. Is Ben out of his league?

In his Kickers series, award-winning author Rich Wallace offers action-filled novels about the Bobcats, a fourth-grade coed soccer team, and their bid for the league play-offs.

From the Hardcover edition.


Stuck in Concrete    

Ben ran toward the soccer ball, eager to stop the rush of the Panthers. His team held a narrow 2-1 lead with just a few minutes remaining.  

"Go, Bobcats!" yelled Ben's teammate Erin, who was on the sideline. "Get that ball."  

A Panther player reached the ball first, and he sprinted down the field. The kid was taller than Ben and very thin. Ben moved into his path, ready to knock the ball free.  

From the corner of his eye, Ben could see players from both teams rushing toward the goal area. It was a blur of blue shirts on the Bobcats and green ones on the Panthers.  

The Panther ran along the sideline, skillfully controlling the ball. But Ben stayed with him, not allowing him to angle across toward the goal.  

The player stopped suddenly, stepping on the ball and pulling it back toward him. Ben stumbled as he tried to pivot, and the Panther sent a crisp pass to a teammate.  

Ben's teammate Mark cut off that player's path, and another Bobcat ran over to help out. They had him trapped!  

He has to pass, Ben thought. Get ready to spring!  

The player Ben had been covering looped behind his teammate and yelled for the ball. The pass bounced wildly toward him, but he fielded it cleanly and came face to face with Ben.  

Ben stood squarely this time, keeping himself between the ball and the goal. He won't get around me, Ben thought.  

The Panther dribbled the ball straight toward Ben, then dodged to his left. Ben sprang in that direction, but suddenly the Panther was past him, taking the ball the other way. In two quick steps, he was in front of the goal, and he fired it hard into the net.  

The game was tied.  

Ben couldn't believe it. He'd been faked out, and it had cost the Bobcats a goal.   "Let's move!" shouted Mark. "There's still time."  

But time was running out quickly. The Bobcats moved up the field, but the Panthers were playing tight defense.  

Mark passed to Ben, and Ben put his head down and charged. A trio of players in green shirts blocked his path, so Ben turned and passed the ball to Jordan.  

But no one got off another shot. The referee blew his whistle and the game ended.   Ben hung his head as he walked off the field. Erin patted his shoulder. "Hey, a tie isn't so bad," she said. "It's better than a loss."  

"Not much," Ben said. Especially since it had been his fault. He was sure he'd had that player stopped, but he'd been left flat-footed as the tying goal was scored.   "That kid made you look like you were stuck in concrete," said Mark.  

Ben winced. Last week, he would have been ready to fight Mark over a remark like that. They'd been enemies for the first few games before starting to play like teammates. Was Mark starting all over again with the nonsense?  

Ben glared at Mark.  

"It's okay," Mark said with a slight smile. "He did it to me, too."  

Ben shook his head and kicked at the turf. The Bobcats' coach had taught them all about shooting and passing, but a fake like that one seemed very advanced for a league mostly full of beginners. The kids in this program were nine and ten years old.  

"How did he learn a move like that?" Ben asked.  

"Who knows?" Mark said. "Where's a ball?"  

Ben stepped to the bench and rolled a ball out from under it with his foot. He swept it over to Mark.  

"It was like this," Mark said. He stepped toward the ball and moved it with his right foot, kicking it over to the left. Then he stopped and kicked it quickly to the right. He stumbled as he kicked it again, but the ball moved in the opposite direction.  

"Pretty good," Ben said. "It was something like that."  

"We need to practice until we can make that move on the run," Mark said.  

"Yeah, and we need to learn how to defend against it, too," Ben said. "We both got burned today. It cost us a win."  

From the Hardcover edition.
Rich Wallace

About Rich Wallace

Rich Wallace - Kickers #2: Fake Out
“When you’ve faced that moment and given everything you have, you let yourself realize that . . . your success or failure is not ultimately based on whether you triumphed, but in how you faced up to the challenge.”—Rich Wallace

Rich Wallace is the author of several books set in Sturbridge, Pennsylvania, including Wrestling Sturbridge, an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults; Shots on Goal; Losing Is Not an Option; and Playing Without the Ball.


I’ve heard it said that most people who write for kids have a fixed point in their childhood where their most significant memories lie. A piece of them has remained that age, has continued to see the world through the eyes of that child. It’s where their emotions run hottest, where their impressions are most vivid.

For me that place is the high school years, the years of Ben in Wrestling Sturbridge and Bones in Shots on Goal. It’s the moments of absolute torture waiting for the girl to answer the telephone, or of gut-twisting anticipation just before a race. It’s the white-hot fury in the rush toward the finish line, the rare but deserved feeling of confidence when you step to the line for a game-winning free throw, and the satisfying range of emotions after a loss or a draw or a triumph.

I was successful as an athlete in high school and college and beyond, but what I feed off now are the alone times: the training, the psyching up, the self-definition. The way Ben prepares himself in the locker room before going to the mat with Al, coming to the realization that “I’ve been waiting a long time to walk out there in a match that means everything—my whole career. Al’s, too. I earned it and I want it.”

Or Bones, before the championship soccer game: “My eyes are wide; I can feel my heart pumping. Coach calls us over and I walk toward the sideline. I am confident and ready and scared.”

These guys have reached pivotal moments in their lives, not just as athletes, but as people. They’ve reached places where they’ve wanted to be, but it’s terrifying just the same to be there. Because you can’t duck out; you can’t say it doesn’t really matter what happens. Because it does.

And afterward, when you’ve faced that moment and given everything you have, you let yourself realize that it wasn’t the winning that mattered, or the losing. That your success or failure is not ultimately based on whether you triumphed, but in how you faced up to the challenge.

I wonder sometimes if I’ll ever move away from my teenage years, in either direction, and write about little kids or adults. There’s this fiery orb of matter centered on the years from fifteen to eighteen, and I don’t think it will expire in my lifetime. So the likelihood is that any future novel I write will draw most of its heat from that period.

I kept intense diaries during my teenage years, packing them with the ups and downs of my daily existence. I captured the boredom and frustrations of life in a small town, the angst and embarrassments of my first dealings with girls, the desire and growing confidence that came with gradual success as an athlete, and the enormous fun of hanging with a group of funny, frustrated, kinesthetic guys. I turn to those diaries sometimes when I need to relive an emotion for a scene in a novel. And I find the same guy I am now—a lot more naive, a lot more ego-driven, but essentially the same individual.

I hope I never lose him. One way I keep him alive is by letting him write these novels of mine. I hope he finds like-minded readers, and that he can help them face their own moments of definition.

Rich Wallace has worked as a sportswriter and news editor, and as the coordinating editor of Highlights for Children magazine. He’s coached his sons’ youth sports teams year-round, including soccer, basketball, and track and field.


“It’s a riveting story . . . Wallace weighs his words carefully, making every one count in this excellent, understated first novel.”—Starred, Booklist

“There are only a few contemporary writers who can hit the mark with teenage boys, and Rich Wallace, with his first novel, seems likely to join that group. . . . You don’t need to know or like wrestling to become quickly engaged with this story.”—Chicago Tribune

“The sports angle makes this a great ‘guy’s’ book, while the gripping narrative and feisty heroine will appeal to young women, too. A real winner.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

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