Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Rooting for Rafael Rosales

32672758Scaletta, Kurtis. Rooting for Rafael Rosales
April 25th 2017 by Albert Whitman & Company
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Rafael is growing up a few years back in the Dominican Republic, where his father repairs machinery for a sugar cane farm. Rafael is obsessed with baseball from the time he sees his first game, and would love to eventually play on a team in the US. He and his friend Juan are often at odds, although both of them have the same dream. Maya lives in the US, and loves to watch baseball. Her favorite new player is... Rafael Rosales. Her sister, Grace, has a baseball blog, and after Maya posts something, the blog gets tons of hits and the sisters are asked to go on a talk show. Maya is interested in gardening, and is very upset that bees are being killed by agricultural chemicals-- chemicals that her father's company, Alceria, makes. When she mentions this on the talk show, her father gets in trouble. She and Grace are invited to talk to the company, which leads them to donate a large portion of land for a wildflower preserve... mainly for the publicity. In the meantime, Maya has been babysitting Claire, who gets stung in her garden and has to go to the hospital for an allergic reaction, and in alternating chapters, we see how Rosales' path to playing ball in the US is pretty rocky. He is very concerned about worker's rights and pay, and befriends a little girl names Bijou, who later connects with Maya through Grace's blog. Will Maya be able to figure out a way to help the bees rather than hurt them? What role will Rosales play in this?
Strengths: This has a lot of good elements-- baseball, the problem with honey bees, parental employment, working conditions in the Dominican Republic, the plight of Haitian workers, sibling tension, bee allergies, and even Claire's two dads. The alternate narrative kept me turning the pages because I couldn't quite figure where the author was going with the two disparate story lines. It was well written, and I liked all of the characters, even the father, who knew his company was kind of evil but really liked his job. 
Weaknesses: While these elements worked well together, they are an odd combination of things to sell to students, and the book is very slow paced. Also, do any teens blog anymore? And why do my blog posts never go viral and get me thousands of hits? 
What I really think: I think I'll buy a copy, even though it might not see a huge amount of use. I've had an increasing number of students who ask for what I consider "teacher books" (like Wonder and Because of Mr. Terupt), and this would appeal to those more thoughtful students. Also, it was upbeat instead of being sad. The points for that offset the odd combination of factors. 

Ms. Yingling

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