THE SUPER SLUGGERS

WALL BALL

The Rambletown Rounders are reigning champs in their baseball division and hope for a chance to repeat that success. Banjo H. Bishbash has developed the nickname “Walloper,” and every member of the team has his own as well, a conceit that might confuse newcomers to the series but that gradually becomes clear. Banjo has a penchant for puns, outrageous hyperbole and cornball commentary that brings old-time sports announcers to mind but is all his own. The premise explored in this outing is a ginormous amount of snow that has fallen during spring break and leaves no chance to practice without shoveling the field first. Having recently moved from Florida, new team member Orlando is not at all sure how to handle the icy snow, and his attempts to adapt reach chuckle-inducing proportions—and earn him his new moniker, to boot, in the season opener against the rival Haymakers. Over-the-top hilarity for a younger crowd. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-115221-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2010

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An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood.

REBOUND

In this prequel to Newbery Award–winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander revisits previous themes and formats while exploring new ones.

For Charlie Bell, the future father of The Crossover’s Jordan and Josh, his father’s death alters his relationship with his mother and causes him to avoid what reminds him of his dad. At first, he’s just withdrawn, but after he steals from a neighbor, his mother packs a reluctant Charlie off to his grandparents near Washington, D.C., for the summer. His grandfather works part-time at a Boys and Girls Club where his cousin Roxie is a star basketball player. Despite his protests, she draws him into the game. His time with his grandparents deepens Charlie’s understanding of his father, and he begins to heal. “I feel / a little more normal, / like maybe he’s still here, / … in a / as long as I remember him / he’s still right here / in my heart / kind of way.” Once again, Alexander has given readers an African-American protagonist to cheer. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, especially two brilliant female characters, his friend CJ and his cousin Roxie, as well as his feisty and wise granddaddy. Music and cultural references from the late 1980s add authenticity. The novel in verse is enhanced by Anyabwile’s art, which reinforces Charlie’s love for comics.

An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood. (Historical verse fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-86813-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Another stellar lap—readers will be eager to see who’s next

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PATINA

From the Track series , Vol. 2

African-American track phenom Patina Jones takes the baton from Ghost (2016) in the second volume of Reynolds’ Track series for middle graders.

Reynolds tells readers almost all they need to know about Patty in two opening, contrasting scenes. In the first, Patty misjudges her competitors in an 800-meter race she’s certain she should have won. Running well but second is not enough for the ferociously competitive Patty. In the other, she braids her little sister’s hair before church, finishing off each of Maddy’s 30 braids with three beads. She does this every Sunday because their white adoptive mother can’t (“there ain’t no rule book for white people to know how to work with black hair”) and because their birth mother insists they look their best for church. Their father dead and their birth mother’s legs lost to diabetes, the two girls live with their father’s brother and his wife, seeing their mother once a week in an arrangement that’s as imperfect as it is loving and necessary. Writing in Patty’s voice, Reynolds creates a fully dimensional, conflicted character whose hard-earned pragmatism helps her bring her relay team together, negotiate the social dynamics of the all-girls, mostly white private school she attends, and make the best of her unusual family lot. When this last is threatened, readers will ache right alongside her.

Another stellar lap—readers will be eager to see who’s next . (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5018-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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