Out of Left Field

In Middle Grade Book Review on June 26, 2018 at 3:40 pm


by Ellen Klages

Historical Fiction/©2018/Recommended for Middle School

Book Description (Courtesy of Goodreads)

A story about the fight for equal rights in America’s favorite arena: the baseball field!

Every boy in the neighborhood knows Katy Gordon is their best pitcher, even though she’s a girl. But when she tries out for Little League, it’s a whole different story. Girls are not eligible, period. It is a boy’s game and always has been. It’s not fair, and Katy’s going to fight back. Inspired by what she’s learning about civil rights in school, she sets out to prove that she’s not the only girl who plays baseball. With the help of friendly librarians and some tenacious research skills, Katy discovers the forgotten history of female ball players. Why does no one know about them? Where are they now? And how can one ten-year-old change people’s minds about what girls can do?

Set in 1957–the world of Sputnik and Leave It to Beaver, saddle shoes and “Heartbreak Hotel”–Out of Left Field is both a detailed picture of a fascinating historic period and a timelessly inspiring story about standing up for equality at any age.

My Thoughts:

The characters are well-rounded and completely believable, and the story is one to which readers can connect. This is a highly engaging work of historical fiction that reflects thorough research on the part of the author. She touched on many of the important issues going on during that time period and masterfully interweaved them in an interesting plot. The history embedded in the story will have readers learning without them ever knowing it. The additional information at the end (appended “baseball cards” of 12 notable female baseball players and an author’s note) provide further context that will have readers wanting to find out more about these fascinating characters in history.



Just Like Jackie

In Middle Grade Book Review on June 16, 2018 at 6:01 am


by Lindsey Stoddard

Realistic Fiction/©2018/Recommended for Middle School

Book Description (courtesy of Goodreads):

For as long as Robinson Hart can remember, it’s just been her and Grandpa. Robbie knows they look like an odd pair, because her blond hair and pale skin don’t match his dark complexion—but those differences don’t mean anything to her. And though she wishes Grandpa would tell her more about the rest of her family, she’s learned over the years that he doesn’t like to talk about the past.

But Grandpa’s memory is starting to get bad, and Robbie’s worried that soon he won’t remember their family—including her—at all. She’s sure that he would get better if she could stay out of trouble, but it’s hard to keep her fists to herself when bullies like Alex Carter make fun of her for not having a mom or for looking so different from Grandpa. It’s up to Robbie to learn how to deal with her anger and to keep her family together—no matter what.

My Thoughts:

I loved everything about this book! It grabbed me from the first line, and I couldn’t put it down. It is a heat-warming coming-of-age story with memorable characters  and incredible writing that evoked both laughter and tears. Its target audience is middle grade, but I think that it will appeal to many beyond those boundaries. This book is a worthy candidate for the next Newbery Award, and I hope it finds the wide audience that it richly deserves.



In Uncategorized on April 28, 2018 at 2:27 pm


by Jason Reynolds

Realistic Fiction/©2018/Recommended for Middle School

Publisher Info (Courtesy of Goodreads)

Sunny tries to shine despite his troubled past in this third novel in the critically acclaimed Track series from National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds.

Ghost. Patina. Sunny. Lu. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds, with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics. They all have a lot of lose, but they all have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves. Sunny is the main character in this novel, the third of four books in Jason Reynold’s electrifying middle grade series.

Sunny is just that—sunny. Always ready with a goofy smile and something nice to say, Sunny is the chillest dude on the Defenders team. But Sunny’s life hasn’t always been sun beamy-bright. You see, Sunny is a murderer. Or at least he thinks of himself that way. His mother died giving birth to him, and based on how Sunny’s dad treats him—ignoring him, making Sunny call him Darryl, never “Dad”—it’s no wonder Sunny thinks he’s to blame. It seems the only thing Sunny can do right in his dad’s eyes is win first place ribbons running the mile, just like his mom did. But Sunny doesn’t like running, never has. So he stops. Right in the middle of a race.

With his relationship with his dad now worse than ever, the last thing Sunny wants to do is leave the other newbies—his only friends—behind. But you can’t be on a track team and not run. So Coach asks Sunny what he wants to do. Sunny’s answer? Dance. Yes, dance. But you also can’t be on a track team and dance. Then, in a stroke of genius only Jason Reynolds can conceive, Sunny discovers a track event that encompasses the hard hits of hip-hop, the precision of ballet, and the showmanship of dance as a whole: the discus throw. As Sunny practices the discus, learning when to let go at just the right time, he’ll let go of everything that’s been eating him up inside, perhaps just in time.

My Thoughts:

A perfect ending for the Track series! As with the first two books, this one is also beautifully written, tells an engaging story, and has unique characters that pull you in – I loved everything about it. I especially appreciated that it was written as diary entries which sends a strong message about the power of writing.

Related Resources;

Ghost (Track #1)