Robinson, Sharon. The Hero Two Doors Down
January 26th 2016 by Scholastic Press
ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
When Jackie Robinson rents an apartment in Steve Satlow's predominately Jewish neighborhood, some of the neighbors are not happy. Steve, however, is thrilled, and since Robinson is doing a good job for the Dodgers, his family is grudgingly accepted. Steve makes friends with the young children, and gets to know his idol a little bit. Things are not always easy, but Steve and his family are supportive of the ball player and his young family, and Steve, as well as his neighbors, get good experience in finding out that people need to be judged on who they are, not what they look like.
Strengths: This is based on Robinson's interviews with the real Steve Satlow, who was her father's neighbor before she was born, so this is a mostly true story. This is a little covered era in Civil Rights, and Robinson's story is a tremendously interesting one. Young readers who like sports stories will be glad to see this one, especially those who have studied players of the past.
Weaknesses: There isn't as much baseball as I hoped there would be in this, and the story seemed on the young side.
What I really think: My readers would probably enjoy a biography of Robinson more than this story, so I am debating purchase.
Bauer, Joan. Soar.
Viking Books for Young Readers (January 5, 2016)
Jeremiah was abandoned as a baby and found by Walt, a robotics engineer, in the company break room. He later adopts Jeremiah, and the two move whenever Walt is hired to trouble shoot. Unfortunately, Jeremiah had a virus that damaged his heart, and has had a transplant, so when Walt gets hired to work nearCincinnati Ohio, for two months, Jeremiah has to get the okay of his heart team. He's excited to move because baseball is a huge thing in Hillcrest, where the team is very good, and even though he can't play, he likes to coach. When the two settle in their new town, Jeremiah finds that there are problems not only with the middle school ball team, but with the high school one as well. Luckily, with the support of Walt, his new cardiologist, and some new friends, Jeremiah is able to enjoy his stay and also help out the cause of baseball in Hillcrest.
Strengths: Bauer always writes an intriguing tale, and the details are exquisite. She also manages to work themes that teachers like (persistence, reaching for impossible goals) with topics that students like (baseball), and always has engaging characters.
Weaknesses: There were a few things that were a little unbelievable-- why would Walt adopt an abandoned baby? Why was Hillcrest so nuts about baseball? What really went on with the steroids? The target demographic will not overthink this the way that I did.
What I really think: I just could not connect with any of the characters, and felt "meh" about this one, which surprised me. I've already ordered a copy, so we'll see how it does with students.