Catch the Ball!

Author: Bryan Smith
Illustrator: Lisa M. Griffin

A Story about Confidence, Communication, and Kids Empowering Kids

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Ezekiel is such a sure-handed receiver, he’s always chosen first when teams are picked for football. He’s even earned the nickname EZ, short for endzone, because he catches so many touchdown passes. His good buddy, Joel, however, always gets picked last. For a reason.

The football was thrown in a tight spiral, soaring straight to Joel. Caching it would mean victory. As Joel reached out, the ball bounced off his fingertips and hung in the air. Joel stretched his arms out further, but the ball slipped through his hands and hit the ground with a thud. Joel was deflated. EZ was annoyed and, out of frustration, yelled, “Catch the ball!”   

It was that moment of disappointment and disbelief that would eventually lead the boys to realize they have the same problem – neither is having any fun. Joel can’t keep his head in the game or concentrate because he’s too worried about messing up and getting yelled at by teammates. EZ hates the pressure that comes from everyone expecting him to always be at the top of his game. Even his league coach repeatedly tells him to “catch the ball,” which has taken all the fun out of playing his favorite sport.  

For very different reasons, Joel and EZ struggle with peer pressure, self-doubt, and stress. But instead of turning to grownups for answers and help, they turn to each other for a solution. Can they work together to come up with a successful plan that will allow them to reclaim the confidence and sense of fun they’ve lost?

Catch the Ball! isn’t a story about winning on the gridiron. Rather, it’s a lesson about life and harnessing the power of empathy, courage, and perseverance to become a more independent problem solver and an even better friend.   

This is the first title in author Bryan Smith’s new Kids Can Do It Too! series, written for students in grades 1-6, and includes a special page for parents and educators on how to encourage children to develop independent problem-solving and decision-making skills.    

Bryan Smith is an award-winning author who comes from a family of educators. Bryan began his career as an elementary school teacher before realizing he had a talent for helping children deal with difficult issues. He has since become a school counselor, where he flourishes teaching students life skills that will take them far and help them succeed. He has written several popular series for young readers, including Executive FUNction, Stepping Up Social Skills, Without Limits, and Social Strategies.

Published by Boys Town Press
ISBN: 979-8-88907-017-7
Juvenile Fiction
Full Color Illustrations
31 pages
Softcover, 9"x9"
Grades K-5; Ages 5-11