Cowherd, Kevin and Ripken, Cal. Squeeze Play
March 4th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Copy provided by publisher for Cybils consideration
Corey Maduro is anxious when his team gets to go to a Grand Slam Tournament. His playing is off, he's getting grief from one of the better players on his team, and his father can't behave himself at the games. Corey's mother helped keep his dad under control, but since this is a middle grade novel, she has passed away from cancer. Corey does better than he thinks he will in the Home Run Derby, even though he doesn't win, and is having fun with his teammates at the cool park that recreates famous baseball fields, but he lives in dread. Sure enough, at a pivotal moment, his father goes absolutely ballistic and is taken from the game by police officers. The coach has it all on videotape, and stages an intervention, and for the rest of the time, Corey's dad is able to keep his temper in check. Katelynn, the better player, continues to give him a hard time for most of the book, but the two come to an understanding.
Strengths: Corey is an appealing character, and the tournament sounds like it would be fun. Katelynn is an interesting character, and is handled well. Her mild abuse of Corey has an interesting twist, and I loved that Corey never stoops to disliking her because she is a girl-- it's mentioned briefly, but she is a really good player and the team knows it. I don't know how I missed this one, but I have Out at Home, which features the coach's son from this book, on my radar for March.
Weaknesses: These are always good, solid titles, but there are some things that would make them great. The covers have a 1980s feel to them, and it would help to add more humor and fewer problems.
Clark, R.M. The Secret at Haney Field
September 16th 2014 by MB Publishing
Nominated for the Cybils by the publisher; copy provided for review.
Description from Goodreads.com
"Twelve-year-old April O'Day's summer has gotten off to a flying start. As the new bat retriever for the Harpoons, her hometown's minor league team, she's fetching bats and doling out great advice to players and coaches alike. In a word, she's becoming indispensable. But mysterious things are happening at Haney Field, which April and her best friend - and fellow baseball enthusiast - Darren Plummer are determined to uncover. As they quickly learn, this is no ordinary season. In fact, it's a whole new ball game."
For that small intersection of readers who like ghosts with their baseball. Not bad, but I had to move it to the Middle Grade Speculative Fiction Category. Take a look if you have students interested in the Negro Leagues.