A fun-loving, age-appropriate look at America’s favorite pastime.

Nick's Very First Day of Baseball

A young boy is thrilled to attend his first day of baseball practice in this colorful children’s book.

Nick’s mom has just signed him up to play America’s pastime, and Nick couldn’t be more excited. In fact, he can barely wait for the first practice on Friday. His dad buys him a mitt and fits and molds it to Nick’s hand, and as the boy practices throwing by tossing crackers to his dog, Yogi, he’s consumed by thoughts of the game. When Friday finally arrives, all of Nick’s friends are on the field waiting for practice to start. Each player receives a new uniform, complete with a hat and their very own special number. (Most of the players can’t remember their numbers, though.) Coach explains the warm-up exercises that the team will do, such as jumping jacks and toe touches. He promises that they’ll start playing real baseball during the next practice, and then he sends each player home with a new baseball card. Christofora (The Hometown All Stars’ Magic Bat Day, 2013, etc.) is a Little League coach in real life, so he knows a thing or two about shaping young minds to play ball. This book is a great place for potential Joe DiMaggios to start. It would be a wonderful read for a child who, like Nick, is just about to begin playing baseball as it explains how practices are run, from donning uniforms to stretching to carousing with a team. In addition to portraying the sport as an exciting way to spend an afternoon, Christofora also focuses on the camaraderie and support that comes with being in a group. Team building is an important skill in baseball and in life, and this fact shines through in this work. The friendly cartoon baseballs in the corners of some pages are lovely additions, as well; they offer fun questions, riddles, tips, and explanations that will keep both young and old readers engaged with the story. There’s even a section at the end for children to write down their answers to questions, lest they forget. Tangeman’s illustrations, meanwhile, are splashy and vibrant, piquing readers’ interest and making the story feel even more alive.

A fun-loving, age-appropriate look at America’s favorite pastime.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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