Vernick, Audrey. Screaming at the Ump.
March 4th 2014
by Clarion Books
Casey Snowden helps his father and grandfather run an umpire school in New Jersey, Behind the Plate. Because they are not in Florida, the classes start in September, about the time that Casey is starting middle school. He is also dealing with the fact that his mother left his father for Bob the Baker, and Casey wants nothing to do with her. The school is struggling financially, so some key workers have not come back, especially Steamboat, who coordinates the annual "You Suck, Ump" day, where the local people put the umpires to the test of dealing with difficult crowds, so it is up to Casey to set it up. Casey also is chafing at the unfairness of the school newspaper, which won't publish articles by sixth graders, even though he has information about a major league ball player who is hiding out at the camp after being kicked out because of steroid use.
Strengths: Umpire school? Fun! Did not know that such a thing existed, and the descriptions of this were very interesting. It's a facet of baseball that I haven't ever seen a book about, and Casey's involvement in the school will intrigue students.
Weaknesses: There's a bit too much going on; poor Casey's life is a mess. Baseball books tend to be issue heavy, but I could have done with a lot less information about Casey's mother.