Jack has things pretty much figured out, as much as anyone can in the 6th grade. He's on a Little League team with good friends and a girl whom he thinks is cute. He's doing well on the team, too-- until he gets hit by a pitch and sent to the hospital. It's just a mild concussion, but it makes him wary of getting up to the plate again. He finds himself faking an injury and lying to his parents in order to get out of a game, and then thinks that he may drop out of playing baseball altogether. Baseball is everything to Jack-- can he manage to find a way to get his head back into the game?
Strengths: Very realistically drawn portrait of a middle school student struggling with the world around him. The parents especially are involved and supportive but not invasive. I always enjoy it when a girl ends up on a boys' team and not only does a good job but is well liked by the boys. Now Mr. Northrop needs to write a football book! (Or talk a colleague on the Sports Illustrated Kids staff to write one!)
Weaknesses: Jack's nemesis is routinely referred to as "Malfoy", which may make the book dated at some point. Also, Jack's injury wasn't all that severe, so I had trouble believing that it really spooked him.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brain child of Shannon Whitney Messenger and is hosted on her blog, Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe. Head on over there for a round up of great middle grade reviews!