Ripken, Cal and Cowherd, Kevin. Out at Home.
March 3rd 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Mickey's father coaches his baseball team, the Orioles, and for the most part is a good coach. When he sees the pitching of Zach "Zoom" Winslow shortly after the Orioles' pitcher hurts his arm, however, he goes a bit gaga. Even though Zoom is self-centered and nasty, Coach lets him get away with it because he hopes that the pitching will help the team win. Mickey and his teammates try to put up with Zoom (who has been to fancy conditioning camps), but it's hard. It helps that Mickey has some other interests-- he has a fun friendship with teammate Katelyn, and discovers a new one in Abby, who sells snow cones at the ball park. No one on the team can stand Zoom, but they all have to work together to finish the season.
Strengths: Both Katelyn and Abby are fabulous characters! Very different, but very fun and fiesty, and Mickey's relationship with them is also good. Mickey's father is realistically portrayed as well. The ending was one of the best I've read. A lot of baseball descriptions, so there was a lot I didn't understand, but a very solid book. Glad to get it to my students.
Weaknesses: Mickey is overweight and yet shovels in chicken wings, which just made me uncomfortable. He addresses his weight problem, but nothing is ever done about it. This made me think that maybe these were characters from an earlier Ripken book, Super-Sized Slugger, but they weren't, which left me feeling like either Ripken or Cowherd has some unresolved food issues!
I thought I had blogged this one, in fact, but can't seem to find it. I do very much like these books, especially since they ARE NOT in a series!
Ripken, Cal and Cowherd, Kevin. Super-sized Slugger
March 6th 2012 by Disney-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!