GUEST WRITER LAUREN SIEBEN RECOMMENDS DINGED BY TOMMY GREENWALD
From Tommy Greenwald, the author of Game Changer, comes another high-stakes, youth sport story that takes us through the risk and reward of contact sports, using a plethora of different multimedia to tell a relevant and compelling story. Dinged is a story about Caleb Springer a high-school freshman who has just made the starting quarterback position at his school. Caleb lives and breathes football, but when Caleb’s dad, an ex-NFL star, starts to act differently and begins to forget things, Caleb begins to worry that the game he loves so much could come at a great risk. Soon Caleb realizes he will have to make a choice, football, or his life. Dinged approaches the complex issue of CTE and the dangers of contact sport in a way that helps us understand Caleb’s struggle with playing the game he loves and understanding the risks involved.
One thing I have loved about Tommy Greenwald’s writing, is the way he uses multiple forms of media to tell his stories. Dinged follows the same script, as Greenwald tells Caleb’s story through text messages, school newspaper clippings, sports announcements, and radio shows. This format allows readers to get a clear insight into Caleb’s life, and the pressure he is feeling from all angles. It also gives some insight into his motivations as a character, while giving the thoughts of the people surrounding him. While reading you can start to understand Caleb’s insecurities, motivations, and understand that he is a very self-aware character trying to make a seemingly impossible choice. This format is very student-friendly, especially for readers who enjoy breaks from all-prose text. It would be a great novel to use as a craft study on different text formats, such as using text messages to convey dialogue between characters. It would also be an engaging read aloud that would encourage some thoughtful group discussions about character motivations and the influences we feel from the people we surround ourselves with, as well as the culture surrounding sports today that is just accepted as part of the game.
This book would be a great addition to classroom libraries middle school and up. Students who enjoy sports, especially football, will love the football commentary throughout the book, and will be invested in Caleb’s freshman season. However, this is not simply just a book for sports fans. I would recommend this to adults and youths alike. It has such a powerful message, told in a way that doesn’t just provide criticism but also allows for compassion. Greenwald uses his authors note to convey that that he doesn’t want to tell you want to think, he just wants to encourage you to think about the subject.
Lauren Sieben is a Grade 8 ELA teacher at Perth-Andover Middle School. Her favourite activity is reading books. Her second favourite activity is talking about them.