Ripken, Cal and Kevin Cowherd. Super-Sized Slugger
6 March 2012, Hyperion
Cody is not happy about moving from Wisconsin to Baltimore, especially since he has to put up with fellow students' assessments of him as "the fat kid" until he can prove himself at baseball. Even this is difficult because of Dante, who plays the same position as Cody and is the school bully. He makes Cody's life miserable until neighbor (and sports enthusiast) Jessica gets a good kick in when Dante is trying to beat up Cody. Things go pretty well in baseball, and Cody starts to fit in and even loses a little weight, but then a rash of thefts break out at his school. Cody has a sneaking suspicion that Dante and his evil older brothers have something to do with this, especially when an phone is planted in Cody's binder and he is blamed for the theft. Can he prove his innocence?
Strengths: This was exactly what my sports loving boys want. Just enough sports, another story line, characters with whom they can identify. This read a little like Matt Christopher and was an enjoyable, quick read. The bullying, for which I have exacting specifications which are almost always not met, was fairly believable and true to form.
Weaknesses: Cody's weight was an issue at the beginning, but then wasn't discussed. I would have liked to see the progress he made. The theft ring was not as believable, but no worse than mafia involvement in Tim Green books!
Murray, Stuart A.P. Matty in the Goal.
1 January 2012, Enslow Publishers
Nominated for the Cybils and copy provided by the Publisher
Matty loves soccer but isn't very good at it, like Gibb. When the team needs a goalie, he volunteers, thinking that he might as well, since he isn't as fast or strong as the other players. He is helped by a college student from Congo to improve at his goalie skills, and ends up doing quite well in a game against a team of foreign students who are really good players. He also realizes that Gibb doesn't have it easy, since his father is pushy and yet unsupportive.
Strengths: I liked the ending, and the descriptions of soccer and of improving at a sport are very good. I have little call for soccer books, but may purchase the football one in this series, Tony's Last Touchdown, since many of the boys who like to read about football need high interest, low level books.
Weaknesses: Like many hi/lo books, the prose in this is a bit wooden.