Fantasy League Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-10-27 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 50 user ratings

"Fantasy League by Mike Lupica demonstrates working hard through obstacles is the way to achieve great dreams. In this realistic fiction novel, Charlie, a 12 year-old fantasy football geek lives in Los Angeles and watches football every Sunday with his best friend, Anna. He is so good at fantasy football that his picks were broadcasted on the radio across all of Los Angeles. What an amazing accomplishment for a young boy! Los Angeles Bulldogs Owner, Joe Warren, hears of Charlie’s great football knowledge and invites him to a Bulldogs practice. After a few beneficial and massive changes that Charlie makes for the team, Joe offers Charlie an important position with the Bulldogs. Charlie is now faced with the life-changing decision of taking the position or remaining the normal, merry kid he once was. What would you do in that situation?
I was fairly certain how Fantasy League would end since I have read many books are about the underdog coming out on top. I could relate to Charlie from my days as a 9 year old on the flag football team. In our last game of the year, I finally was moved from center and ran the ball for a touchdown! This text supports my feeling, “The Culver City Cardinals beat Santa Monica on Saturday morning and as good as that news was, the better news was that it could not have happened without the contributions of Charlie Gaines.” I cannot imagine how Charlie felt spending time with players he admired. I was excited just being close to the Cubs players at Spring Training. Lupica writes, “Charlie smiled. He was smiling in the small, dark theater because he was in this room with him, the great Tom Pinkett, someone he never thought he’d get anywhere near.” I liked the clear, descriptive style of Lupica’s writing. I feel the coach’s honesty and kindness when he says, “I don’t know how much you are going to play this season, kid. But I’ve got this feeling you’re going to make a contribution.” It is important to remember that you can make a difference even if you are not the star of a team. “Once he got out there, and got over his nerves, something that happened faster that he thought it would, he felt good. Very good.”
I found this to be an uplifting, easy read that most middle school boys would enjoy reading. It is a feel-good football story and incorporates details about how the game is played. The behind the scenes studying and finding the right mix of players is one of the keys to success. It is important to remember there are “stars” on and off the field. If you like the movie, Rudy, you will love reading Fantasy League!

" said.

" Mike Lupica isn't afraid to mix up his storytelling formula, at least to a certain extent. Sometimes his main characters are prodigies of the sport they love, like Michael Arroyo in Heat, a twelve-year-old power pitcher who could dominate any batter stepping into the box against him, or Ben McBain in the Game Changers series, an instinctive playmaker with high sports IQ and a knack for being in the right spot to make the big play when his team needs him most. In other Mike Lupica novels, the kid protagonist has a huge heart but without size or athletic talent to match, like little Scott Parry in Two-Minute Drill, a football player with an excellent head on his shoulders but whose contributions on the field are limited. The main characters are also surrounded by a significant variety of best friends to help them through their challenges on and off the field, ready to be there with earnest advice or encouragement when the protagonist inevitably falters.

Fantasy League is yet another example of Mike Lupica's ability to change the rhythm and style of his books, the story of fantasy football guru Charlie Gaines and the improbable mark he makes on a National Football League franchise. Charlie crushes the opposition in his recreational fantasy football leagues year after year, and his dominance is no matter of luck. He observes what other fantasy leaguers can't be bothered to notice on the football field, the minute indicators that a player is trending upward or down, and it pays off in his weekly fantasy results. Charlie has loved football his whole life, but the dream came alive in a new way when negotiations to restore an NFL team to Los Angeles produced the L.A. Bulldogs, a hometown expansion franchise for Charlie and his best friend Anna to obsess over. The two of them watched nearly every down played by the hapless Bulldogs on television last season, but Anna's connection to the team owner (her wealthy grandfather, Mr. Warren) gives them a unique in to do more than watch the Bulldogs lose on television this year. Losing is practically all the Bulldogs did their first few seasons in the NFL, as expansion squads normally do, but L.A. media is less patient than most for their gridiron boys to progress into a playoff contender. When Anna starts bringing Charlie to watch games in the owner's box with her and Mr. Warren, encouraging Charlie to opine freely about the team in her grandfather's presence, Mr. Warren takes interest in Charlie's sagacious remarks. Charlie wins every fantasy league he has a hand in for good reason, and a suggestion or two he casually offers Mr. Warren pays stunning dividends when the owner chooses to implement them, overriding general manager Matt Warren (his own son) and bringing in a thirty-eight-year-old castoff quarterback and an injury-prone former linebacker who traded in his pads for a shot at Hollywood stardom several seasons ago. Anna believed in Charlie's football brain from go, but as his role advising Mr. Warren expands, so does his reputation as a gridiron genius in the greater Los Angeles area. Radio call-in shows and television reports buzz about the twelve-year-old acting GM of the L.A. Bulldogs and the turnaround effect he's had on the team, lifting a down-and-out pack of Dogs to compete for one of six coveted NFL playoff berths.

"It doesn't matter how old or young you are: The truth will always catch up with you eventually...Best thing is to own the truth from the start, whether you like it or not."

—Mr. Warren, Fantasy League, P. 117

Charlie isn't afraid to tell seventy-nine-year-old Mr. Warren the truth as he sees it about the Bulldogs, even when the truth hurts, and that's part of Charlie's early success picking injury replacements for the team while Matt Warren struggles under the burden of trying to please his father. But Mr. Warren soon becomes something of a father figure to Charlie as well, whose own father skipped town years ago, leaving Charlie and his mother to be a family of two. Despite his overfull schedule, Mr. Warren even makes time to attend some of Charlie's youth football games. Charlie is less than a game-wrecker on the scaled-down gridiron, a backup linebacker who tries hard and produces good plays every now and then, but this season his superior schematic football awareness is brought to the attention of his coach. After watching so much professional ball at home and in the stadium with Anna, dissecting player tendencies and reading option calls like a book, Charlie sees more than even his coaches as the season commences for his Culver City Cardinals. If the opposing QB unconsciously telegraphs when he's going to check down to the tight end, Charlie is there to audible on defense and break up the play. If a certain pre-snap formation indicates pass or run, Charlie has it figured out before the quarterback takes the ball, and he's ready to counteract the strategy. When Charlie is named unofficial assistant player-coach, he has the opportunity to impact games way more than he did as just a reserve linebacker. This will be a year to remember for both Charlie's teams, the Bulldogs and the Cardinals.

But making pressure decisions in a win-now professional league is tough. The first time a Charlie personnel move for the Bulldogs turns sour, the Los Angeles media is quick to jeer, jumping on Mr. Warren for trusting the judgment of a seventh-grader. Charlie has known success for so long as an architect of fantasy teams that he's not accustomed to his picks being second-guessed or ridiculed, but the NFL is a demanding arena where coordinators, head coaches, and general managers are dismissed without hesitation if they make a few dubious moves. You win now or hit the road, that's the prevailing attitude in the NFL of this era (which, judging from hints in the story, is probably 2016 or 2017), and kid hotshots are given an even shorter leash. It's not just Charlie's "professional" reputation taking a hit, either. Charlie is very close friends with Anna, and may want to be more than friends in three or four years. In spite of her know-it-all-ism and brash personality, it was Anna who brought Charlie's football savvy to her grandfather's attention, or he never would have been in position to influence executive decisions of the team the three of them so dearly love. With Charlie suddenly an Orange County media star, he and Anna have started getting on each other's nerves, and relational icebergs abound when the smooth sailing of Charlie's preliminary success with the Bulldogs enters uncharted waters. Working out conflict with Anna isn't easy, but Charlie has Mr. Warren to turn to for advice, and Mr. Warren accommodates him as impartially as possible. With the season entering its homestretch and the L.A. Bulldogs and Charlie's Culver City Cardinals both in hot pursuit of playoff spots—the Bulldogs vying for their first postseason in franchise history—Charlie finds out there are more important considerations in life than even championship football runs. The game is a wonderful pastime to share with loved ones, has brought Charlie into a family he probably wouldn't have become part of without the shared interest of football, but there's a lot left for Charlie to learn if he's to be as smart in the ways of the world as he is at playing GM for the L.A. Bulldogs. With his mother, and Anna, and Mr. Warren by his side, all of whom care about Charlie deeply, he's going to be all right regardless of the fate of his two favorite football squads.

As usual, the trademark nuggets of Mike Lupica's sporting wisdom find their way into Fantasy League. At one point Charlie is trying to decide whether to Google his own name on the internet after his fame spreads in L.A., wanting to see what the pundits say about a kid his age advising the owner of the Bulldogs. Charlie thinks back to an author who visited his school last year and told the student body he never Googles his own name. Why isn't it important what online critics are saying? "If I don't know them, why should I care about what they only think they know about me?" That's a healthy philosophy to maintain as a celebrity of any degree. In a free society it's easy to speak unkind words and verbally snipe at people who seem larger than life, but they are still human and can be hurt by the careless barbs of others. It's best for high-profile individuals to ignore public chatter and focus on performing well in their field of accomplishment. And of course Mike Lupica reminds us, through the words of Mr. Warren, what a precious gift it is to be a young athlete on game day, aware or unaware that you're creating memories you'll treasure for a lifetime. "I'm...the one telling you to enjoy all our Sundays, Charlie," Mr. Warren says. "But I forget to tell you the same goes for these Saturdays of yours, too. Because someday you're going to look back on them and think you'd give everything you own to just get one of them back." Savor your moment in the spotlight, when the outcome of an athletic contest may rely on your split-second timing, an excited crowd cheering you on and taking delight when your team emerges victorious. That's the sweetness of athletics at its best, and it's what Mike Lupica's junior novels are all about.

Mike Lupica has written some fantastic books: Heat, Long Shot, Safe at Home, The Big Field, and The Underdogs, to name just a handful. In my opinion Fantasy League doesn't live up to those five, but it has its moments. The smooth Lupica style is very much intact, from the personality of the characters to the use of short sentences that are best for fully immersing readers in game action. I almost decided to rate Fantasy League one and a half stars, but I think I'll give it the full two. I appreciate the difficulties of constructing a story that has a rigidly defined timeframe, yet trying to maximize its appeal decades or centuries into the future. The NFL's overemphasis on quarterbacks and the passing game was a big deal in 2014 (the year Fantasy League was originally published), but trends rapidly shift and stockpiling talent in new favorite positions gains popularity, changing how the game is played and officiated, for better or worse. I do like that ESPN NFL reporter Sal Paolantonio is worked into the story, a nice measure of respect for a contemporary of Mike Lupica's. If you enjoy the author's other work, you're likely to have fun with Fantasy League, and I recommend it especially for reluctant young readers interested in sports. Kids who crave football will love the ins and outs of this novel, and there's no better way to help someone learn the rewards of being a reader than having them start on a subject they're already passionate about. If Fantasy League accomplishes that, it's a winner in my book.
" said.

" I didn't really like this book. It was not like most of the Mike Lupica books and didn't really catch on. I would recommend it to anyone who loves sports statistics. " said.

" I liked it because it was about a boy who loved football like me and the L.A Bulldogs were an interesting team. " said.

" This was one of the best football books I have ever read. I always love the books that Mike Lupica writes! I can't wait for the next one!!! " said.

"Charlie is a great person at fantasy football. He is called by his friends brain. He is even great at figuring out plays in real life too. His best friend, Anna, is the granddaughter of Joe Warren, owner of the L.A. Bulldogs a NFL team. He went to one of the games with Anna. They sat up in the owner's suite. Mr. Warren asked Charlie who do you think would be a good player soon? Charlie said that Tom Picknett would be a good pick. Charlie couldn't believe that they actually picked him. Charlie didn't want anyone to know. The only person that knew about was Mr. Warren and Anna. The media found out because Anna was trying to defend Charlie from Kevin Fallon, whose dad is a radio host for ESPN. I think Charlie is going to tell everyone on his podcast that it is not a big deal." said.

"Personal Response:I found this book very interesting, because I like football. It was cool to see how Charlie became close friends with Anna’s grandfather.

Plot:Charlie and Anna liked hanging out at her house and they liked to talk about football as they watched the Los Angeles Bulldogs game. Anna’s grandpa was Joe Warren, he was also the owner of the Los Angeles Bulldogs. The Bulldogs weren’t the best football team, they lost a lot of games in the past.
Anna thought that Charlie should start his own podcast in support of the football team. Charlie had thought a lot about his decision about bringing Tom Pinkett in to be the quarterback for Los Angeles Bulldogs. A couple days later the Bulldogs brought Tom in. Tom Pinkett led the Bulldogs to their first win.
Joe Warren told Charlie to watch some films with Tom Pinkett to discuss how the linebacker knew when and where he was going to throw the ball. Charlie wanted to find someone else to replace the linebacker.
He did a lot of research on Jack “Sack” Sutton to see if he was in good condition to play again. Jack came into the NFL a while back and played for the Jaguars. He was amazing on the field but off the field he would party, get drunk, and do drugs. Jack got injured and was cut from the team. Jack left football and became an actor after his injury.
They realized that Jack ran a little slower than before he was hurt. They drafted Jack and he led them to a victory in their next game. The Los Angeles Bulldogs made it to the playoffs for the first time in a long time.

Recommendation:I recommend this book to boys and girls in middle school, because it is at middle school reading level. It is a good learning experience about football. I also thought it taught people about fantasy leagues and how they work. I gave this book a five star rating.
" said.

"Personal Response: I thought this book was really good, because the plot is pretty interesting and the ending left me wanting to read the second book if there was one. I think this book should have more than just ending with the Bulldogs making the playoffs and should of ended with the Super Bowl. It should of also included the Pro Bowl too. I wish there was a second Fantasy League book. I think that when people read this book, they will want to read more books by Mike Lupica.

Plot: Fantasy League by Mike Lupica is about a 12 year old boy named Charlie Gaines, who happens to be amazing at Fantasy Football. He is a backup linebacker for the Culver City Cardinals, which is a Pop Warner football team. Charlie has a friend named Anna Warren, who happens to be the granddaughter of the owner of the Los Angeles Bulldogs, a National Football League team. Charlie is so good at Fantasy Football, that Anna starts a podcast show just for Charlie called The Charlie Show where he makes predictions for each week of the NFL. His show becomes famous because of Kevin Fallon’s dad who has a sports show. Charlie becomes a star and meets Joe Warren, the owner of the Los Angeles Bulldogs and who is also Anna’s grandfather. Charlie ends up helping Mr. Warren improve the Los Angeles Bulldogs and helping the Culver City Cardinals win a couple of games. The Los Angeles Bulldogs are in the race for a spot in the playoffs, so they have to beat the Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks. The Bulldogs win against the Cowboys, but they are about to lose against the Seahawks. Mr. Warren says to take out Tom Pinkett and put in the star quarterback, but Charlie says that Tom Pinkett should stay in, so Mr. Warren keeps him in and Tom Pinkett throws a touchdown to win the game. The Warrens throw a huge party, because the Bulldogs make the playoffs, but the Bulldogs have to play the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the playoffs.

Recommendation: I recommend this book to any boy ages twelve to nineteen, because it is a sports book and most boys these ages are into sports or are in sports.
" said.

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