Friday, February 21, 2020

A High Five For Glenn Burke

Bildner, Phil. A High Five For Glenn Burke
February 25th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
E ARC provided by Edleweiss Plus

Silas Wade is eager to do his school report on Glenn Burke, who started the High Five handshake that is now omnipresent in our culture. He is nervous, but does a great job on his presentation, impressing his teacher. There's something about Burke, however, that he is afraid to mention; Burke was the first openly gay major league player, and Silas identifies with Burke. Silas does tell his best friend Zoey, who is very supportive, and it helps that the coaches on his baseball team have always put a quick stop to behavior and comments they think are inappropriate. For instance, they have said that no one on the Renegades can make any comments about monkeys in their chatter, because those have often been used as racists barbs against African-Americans, and they also put a stop to comments about something being "gay". This relieves Silas, but also irritates another coach, who claims this is a manifestation of politics, which have no place in coaching. The other coaches disagree, saying that they are teaching the players to be decent human beings, and the irritated coach quits. Silas wonders if it's a good idea to tell more people about his identity, given how charged so many issues still are. This is reinforced when parents start pulling kids off the team, including Silas' stretching partner, Malik. When Silas finds that even Zoey has struggled with how to treat him, Silas knows that the road ahead will be rough, but that he has a strong support network that will help him get through.
Strengths: I love books where I learn something! Who knew that the birth of the high five was so recent? Aside from that, there are a lot of good details about baseball, baseball teams and teammates, as well as school and family drama. A very well-rounded middle school story from the author of the excellent Rip and Red series. I'd love to see Mr. Bildner write more sports novels for grades 6-8.
Weaknesses: There are fewer middle grade books about boys discovering their sexuality than there are about girls for some reason, but I wish that this had not been a coming out tale, but had just introduced Silas as a baseball player who happened to be gay. It makes perfect sense that most middle grade LGBTQIA+ books are coming out stories, just because of developmental phases, though.
What I really think: Will purchase. Baseball, and the fascinating history of the high five and Glenn Burke alone would make this worth while, and having another LGBTQIA+ title is a bonus.
Ms. Yingling

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