cover image The Rivalry: Mystery at the Army-Navy Game

The Rivalry: Mystery at the Army-Navy Game

John Feinstein, Knopf, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-375-86570-1

Feinstein's fifth installment about junior sports reporters Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson mines his adult nonfiction title, A Civil War (Little, Brown, 1996) for its setting: the annual Army-Navy game, a gridiron classic that traditionally ends the college football season. Considerable time is spent spinning a thread about security and racism because President Barack Obama plans to attend, but the real "mystery" unspools quickly, late in the story. Stevie and Susan Carol share a subtle but sweet chemistry stemming from their shared love of sports as well as their experiences as 14-year-old reporters, whose credibility as observant insiders is rarely questioned by adults. Feinstein's respect for both West Point's cadets and the midshipmen of Annapolis is evident, making this a good choice for kids with an interest in the military, but the most enthusiastic audience will be readers who devour Sports Illustrated the moment it arrives. Feinstein unloads on corrupt officiating and the professionalization of college sports, and he writes cameos for a parade of sports stars and the reporters who cover them, creating a rousing backdrop for this light but engaging read. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)