Backyard Sports Story Books. I have always loved books, in particular kids books. When I was working as Creative Director for Humongous Inc. we signed a deal with Grosset & Dunlap (Stonesong Press) to do a multi-book series to support our Backyard Sports Video Game brand, I was so excited. Michael Teitelbaum (writer) them and Ron Zalme (illustrator) were selected by the publisher and they got started.
The original direction was to put these kids into these super fantastical situations and I felt it was the wrong direction. One of the things that our games did for years was to infuse learning about the sports the kids were playing AND entertain them. As someone who spent the majority of youth playing sports I thought it was the ideal way to highlight some of the lessons that kids learn in sports that serve them well in life. We also wanted expand the exposure of the back stories, the personalities and tendencies of our established cast of characters. I was happy to push for this direction as I think they all were very effective stories that had something for the kids to take away with them.
Wild Pitch – In this action-packed baseball story, the Backyard Bombers, a pick-up team, go up against their biggest rivals, the Sluggin’ Tigers. There’s just one problem, Joey, the Bombers first baseman, thinks he has to be the boss to get his team to win, and the rest of the Bombers aren’t too happy about being bossed around and yelled at. Can the Backyard Bombers all come together for an edge-of-your-seat showdown against the Sluggin’ Tigers?
Double Team – It’s basketball season and all of the Backyard Sports kids love playing games after school. But it’s not all fun and games—a lot of the kids, like Pablo, love basketball and take it pretty seriously. Unfortunately, Ernie isn’t one of them. He’s too busy showing off funny moves and telling jokes on the court! Can Pablo convince Ernie to stop goofing off and focus on the game before Ernie’s horseplay sends them on a major losing streak?
Tricked Out – Reese and Dante love skateboarding together. Their friendly competition pushes them both to skate their best, but when they enter a contest with an amazing prize, the word “friendly” ceases to apply. Can the boys hold on to their friendship or will the competition come between them for good?
Inside Edge – The Backyard Sports kids are taking to the ice for hockey season. But when Tony, their star player, gets invited to play with his older brother’s hockey team in addition to his own, Tony thinks he can do both. Soon he’s missing practices and letting his friends down. When he realizes that both of his teams are playing their biggest games of the season on the same day, he has a choice to make. Will he choose his older brother or his best friends?
Home Field Advantage -The Backyard Sports kids are kicking off soccer season with a tournament. But before the kids know it, the tournament has become bigger than their little field can handle. They need to find a new field and fast! Will the kids be able to fix up a new field, organize the tournament, and still enjoy playing together? Or will all of the stress of planning such a big event tear their team apart?
Hand Off – Pablo loves playing flag football with his friends, but he isn’t quite as good as all of the other kids because he’s never been taught the intricacies of football. He practices all of the time and his heart is really in it, but he gets intimidated and always seems to mess up during the games. When the team’s quarterback hurts his ankle during the biggest game of the season, a very nervous Pablo has to take his place. Will Pablo be able to overcome his fears?