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An altogether trite, values-driven star vehicle—worthy of purpose but aside from occasional game action, as dull as a rain...

Fourth-grader “Derek” works his way through a batting slump, pulls an outsider into his circle of friends, and atones for being a bully in this semiautobiographical sequel co-authored by the recently retired Yankees captain.

The actual story is preceded by a good-behavior “contract” between the future star and his invariably strict-but-fair parents, a list of 10 “Life Lessons,” plus an introductory note explaining that this episode—the second in a planned 10—will be based on the theme “Think Before You Act.” It is entirely a vehicle for platitudes and behavior modeling. Notwithstanding the gibes of his friends, Derek holds out a welcoming hand to Dave, a seemingly standoffish new class- and teammate who turns out to be a lonely rich kid with absentee parents. Meanwhile, Derek’s delight at the opening of Little League season turns to determination as he goes hitless through the first three games. Then he angrily gets into the face of a kindergartener who is bullying his little sister, Sharlee, and is called into the principal’s office with his parents for a disciplinary conference. Wheeling along past billboard-sized doses of both life and baseball coaching, plus repeated reminders to “stay positive,” every plotline ultimately coasts to a salutary resolution: Dave earns general acceptance through improved play on the field; Derek shows sincere remorse for his misdeed and formally apologizes to his victim (who later befriends Sharlee); and the base hits finally start coming as Derek leads his team to the championship game.

An altogether trite, values-driven star vehicle—worthy of purpose but aside from occasional game action, as dull as a rain delay. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2315-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2015

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A peppy introduction to a lesser-known type of worker dog.

An exploration of the work of avalanche-rescue dogs through a focus on one dog and her trainer.

Piper is a 3-year-old border collie who is training with her owner, Sara, to become an avalanche-rescue dog in Washington. Rusch outlines Piper’s daily training at a ski resort, introduces readers to her canine classmates, and concludes with Piper’s big test to become a rescue dog. Present-tense narration paired with dynamic color photographs puts readers in the moment with Piper: “Suddenly, she stops and her head snaps back. Did she smell something? She sniffs a bit but continues across the slope toward a cluster of trees.” Casual, colloquial language makes the narrative friendly and information accessible: “When Piper, Darwin, and other team members get pooped, they head into a hut to warm up and relax.” Bold display type and clear headers and borders create distinctive sections and provide space for eyes to rest. Inset information fills in relevant details about avalanches, dog biology, and dog training. Backmatter includes instructions for making a tug toy and training a dog to tug, and Rusch includes both a list of further reading and a list of internet resources—including how to find more information specifically about Piper and her co-workers.

A peppy introduction to a lesser-known type of worker dog. (Nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63217-173-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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