Christopher, Matt. Play Ball! (Little League #1)
Actually written by Stephanie True Peters
5 March 2013, Little Brown and Co.
Cousins and neighbors Liam and Carter, who live in Pennsylvania, are really close, and are glad to be on the same baseball team. After a very tense championship, Liam disgraces himself, mainly because a boy Carter met at a baseball camp, Phillip DiMaggio, managed to distract them both. Liam's disgrace is all over the internet, but it just gets worse-- Liam's family decides to move to Southern California. Both boys take it badly. Carter doesn't want to befriend the boy who moves into the house, Ash, even though Ash plays ball and his mother runs the local indoor ball complex. Liam ends up on a team with Phillip, and his fame has preceded him. Still, both boys love to play ball, and while things are difficult and they miss each other, they manage to pull themselves together to continue in the game they love.
Strengths: I'm torn about the continuation of the Christopher franchise-- there are some of the titles that are feeling rather dated, so I'd almost rather that Peters write under her own name. This book is certainly up to date, with a good mix of sports and problems that is always successful with students who want baseball books.
Weaknesses: A little too much angst. Between the emotion of the move and the disgrace on the field, Liam and Carter spend a lot of the book being unhappy. I don't know that most 11-year-old boys think about life in quite as much depth, but they will probably enjoy reading about it.