Title: Bareknuckle Series
Publisher: Darby Creek, 2014
Bareknuckle is an exciting new hi/lo series perfect for reluctant reader boys. Each book tells a different story set at an underground boxing club in the 1870s. Although boys will be most interested in the very violent fighting, each book also throws in some history and moral lessons. Descriptions of the fights are very visual and auditory and suck in readers who love picturing loud cracks as bare knuckles hit broken noses. Squeamish readers might not be as thrilled, but most boys will be drawn to the fighting sections. Although the series is aimed at reluctant readers, it is exciting enough to interest voracious readers as well. In Nathan Sack’s The Big Fix readers are introduced to underground boxing when young journalist George Choogart travels to New York to uncover corruption in a post-Tammany city. The Woodrat is established as a popular fighting club. Fighter’s Alley by Heather Duffy Stone tells the story of a young boy determined to enter a high-stakes boxing tournament and try to keep it a secret from his father who is running for mayor. Slavery and immigration are backstories in Gabriel Goodman’s Lightning’s Run. Jewish immigrant Hiram and former slave Lightning join forces at the Woodrat to fight against bullies, both big and small. The Bareknuckle series would be a worthy addition to middle school libraries and libraries serving the tween (4th-6th grades) population.
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