Elem./MG – Inside MLB (Series NF)

Inside MLB. Abdo Publishing, 2023. $23.95 ea. $1718.50 set of 30. 48 p. Grades 3-8. 

Donnelly, Patrick. Arizona Diamondbacks. 978-1-098-29008-5.
—. Atlanta Braves. 978-1-098-29009-2.
Giedd, Steph. Baltimore Orioles. 978-1-098-29010-8.
Clarke, David J. Boston Red Sox. 978-1-098-29011-5.
Hewson, Anthony K. Chicago Cubs. 978-1-098-29012-2.
Carl, Douglas. Chicago White Sox. 978-1-098-29013-9.
Hewson, Anthony K. Cincinnati Reds. 978-1-098-29014-6.
—. Cleveland Guardians. 978-1-098-29015-3.
—. Colorado Rockies. 978-1-098-29016-0.
Donnelly, Patrick. Detroit Tigers. 978-1-098-29017-7.
Hewson, Anthony K.
Houston Astros. 978-1-098-29018-4.
Clarke, David J. Kansas City Royals. 978-1-098-29019-1.
Donnelly, Patrick. Los Angeles Angels. 978-1-098-29020-7.
Hewson, Anthony K . Los Angeles Dodgers. 978-1-098-29021-4.
Donnelly, Patrick. Miami Marlins. 978-1-098-29022-1.
Clarke, David J. Milwaukee Brewers. 978-1-098-29023-8.
—. Minnesota Twins. 978-1-098-29024-5.
—. New York Mets. 978-1-098-29025-2.
Hewson, Anthony K. New York Yankees. 978-1-098-29026-9.
—. Oakland Athletics. 978-1-098-29027-6.
—. Philadelphia Phillies. 978-1-098-29028-3.
Donnelly, Patrick. Pittsburgh Pirates. 978-1-098-29029-0.
Kortemeier, Todd. San Diego Padres. 978-1-098-29030-6.
Carl, Douglas. San Francisco Giants. 978-1-098-29031-3.
Hewson, Anthony K. Seattle Mariners. 978-1-098-29032-0.
Donnelly, Patrick. St. Louis Cardinals. 978-1-098-29033-7.
Hanlon, Luke. Tampa Bay Rays. 978-1-098-29034-4.
Donnelly, Patrick. Texas Rangers. 978-1-098-29035-1.
—. Toronto Blue Jays. 978-1-098-29036-8.
Hewson, Anthony K. Washington Nationals. 978-1-098-29037-5.

The focus of the 30-book nonfiction series introduces sports and baseball fans to the history of each of the MLB franchises. Each book has engaging images along with an informative text that will appeal to students. The book concludes with a glossary, trivia, team facts, timeline, and an index.

THOUGHTS: This series is a good addition to enhance upper elementary and middle school library collections seeking to update their MLB section of the library.

796.357 Baseball

Elem. – Inside Big Events (Series NF)

Kortemeier, Todd, and Josh Anderson. Inside Big Events. The Child’s World, 2023. $24.95 ea. $149.70 set of 6. 31 p. Grades 3-6. 

Inside the Daytona 500: 978-1-503-86515-0.
Inside the NBA. 978-1-503-86517-4.
Inside the Olympics. 978-1-503-86518-1.
Inside the Super Bowl. 978-1-503-86519-8.
Inside the World Cup. 978-1-503-86516-7.
Inside the World Series. 978-1-503-86520-4.

Professional sporting events are a popular topic for many students. The Child’s World has selected six major sporting events and given a basic overview of some of the star athletes, some of the biggest moments in the event, and fast facts. Full-color and historical photographs add a strong interest for all readers. There are critical-thinking questions to help readers deepen their understanding. The book concludes with a glossary, additional resources, source notes, and an index.

THOUGHTS: This series is a good addition to enhance elementary library collections seeking to refresh their sports section.

700s Sports and Recreation

MG – Fox Point’s Own Gemma Hopper

Sprangler, Brie. Fox Point’s Own Gemma Hopper. Alfred A. Knopf, 2023. 978-0-593-42849-8. 248 p. $21.99. Grades 4-8.

Gemma Hopper is trying to keep her life running smoothly, but that is not easy since her mother left. Gemma is in charge of all the household chores as well as looking out for her younger twin brothers while her father works several jobs to make ends meet. Her older brother, Teddy, is a baseball sensation and will be leaving soon to join a baseball league in Florida. It seems as though everyone has forgotten that Gemma also has a love for the sport, and in fact, she is quite talented. She feels overshadowed by her brother. Will baseball be the thing that saves her and her family, or will it destroy everything?

THOUGHTS: This is such a great graphic novel with a focus on family, friendship, and hope. Middle grade students will be drawn to this book.

Graphic Novel

YA – Some Kind of Hate

Littman, Sarah Darer. Some Kind of Hate. Scholastic Press, 2022. 978-1-338-74681-5. 336 p. $18.99. Grades 7-12.

Content Warning: “The contents include white nationalist ideas based on antisemitic conspiracy theories, Islamophobia, racism, misogyny, and violence.”

Declan Taylor is at the top of his game – literally. His school baseball team just won the state tournament, and he was their star pitcher. If Declan just could figure out how to talk to his longtime crush, Megan, he would be set. When an attempt to impress Megan during an end of the school year celebration goes horribly wrong, Declan’s summer plans derail. No more baseball means no future for Declan, at least not the future he was envisioning. Drowning in self-pity while the rest of his family is working long hours, Declan spends most of his day gaming. His baseball friends, including his best friend and longtime teammate Jake, are too busy with summer league and don’t understand Declan’s situation or his anger. Plus Jake seems to be spending more time with his friends from synagogue than worrying about how Declan is doing. With their family’s finances crumbling, Declan is forced to get a summer job. Now he’s spending more time away from home and with his co-workers. Finn and Charlie introduce Declan to a better way to escape the lack of acceptance from his family and friends. It’s in the game world that Declan is able to avoid reality and find understanding: The world needs to wake up to the globalists who are tipping the scale in their favor and stealing opportunities from families like Declan’s. Though his twin sister and baseball friends question some of the things Declan has been saying, Declan’s anger surfaces and he writes them all off, opting to join his new friends in fighting back. Will Declan lose himself to his anger, or is there hope that he can crawl back and redeem himself?

THOUGHTS: Told in alternating chapters between Declan and Jake, this novel explores how, given the right conditions, one’s hate can blossom. Haunting and at times difficult to read, this story will stay with readers and belongs in every YA collection. It would pair well as a modern tie-in to Night, To Kill a Mockingbird, and other classics that deal with social issues. Highly recommended.

Realistic Fiction          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

MG – Stealing Home

Torres, J. Stealing Home. Kids Can Press, 2021. 978-1-525-30334-0. 112 p. $17.99. Grades 4-7.

Baseball is Sandy Saito’s favorite hobby – in fact, he sees it as more of a lifestyle than anything else. His favorite team, the Asahi, are the pride of the Vancouver community. Sandy loves playing catch with his younger brother Ty and his father, a respected doctor. His life changes drastically; however, when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, and suddenly anyone of Japanese descent is treated very differently than before. His father daringly breaks the curfews imposed on the Japanese to care for patients but one day, he does not return home. The Saito family is relocated to an internment camp without Dr. Saito. Sandy’s mother explains that his father is in a camp where his medical expertise is needed, but Sandy is doubtful he will ever see his father again. Eventually, Sandy realizes that, much like in baseball, he will have to figure out how to handle what is thrown his way.

THOUGHTS: Even though this is a complex historical event, baseball ties the story together and makes it relatable to young readers who may only be learning about Japanese internment camps for the first time. Back matter in the book provides more information and sources for readers eager to learn more. This graphic novel is a great fit for middle grade libraries and complements other graphic novels like George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy and Kiku Hughes’ Displacement which are on the same topic.

Graphic Novel           Danielle Corrao, Manheim Central SD

Elem./MG – Spectacular Sports (Series NF)

Doeden, Matt. Spectacular Sports. Millbrook Press, 2021. $25.99 each. $208.32 Set of 9. 64 p. Grades 5-8.

Coming Up Clutch: The Greatest Upsets, Comebacks and Finishes in Sports History. 978-1-512-42756-1.
It’s Outta Here! The Might and Majesty of the Home Run. 978-1-728-41716-5.
The College Football Championship: The Fight for the Top Spot. 978-1-467-71897-4.
The Final Four: The Pursuit of College Basketball Glory. 978-1-467-78780-2.
The NBA Playoffs: In Pursuit of Basketball Glory. 978-1-541-54153-5.
The Negro Leagues: Celebrating Baseball’s Unsung Heroes. 978-1-512-42753-0.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs: The Quest for Hockey’s Biggest Prize. 978-1-541-57838-8.
The Super Bowl: Chasing Football Immortality. 978-1-512-42754-7.
The World Cup: Soccer’s Global Championship. 978-1-512-42755-4.

This reviewer read It’s Outta Here! The Might and Majesty of the Home Run in the Spectacular Sports series. This series offers meticulously-researched, well-written information, tons of sports statistics, and interesting full-color illustrations about high-interest sports topics that middle-level readers will be excited to learn more about. Each book in the series addresses a different major event in sports or sports history. The books include short chapters with catchy titles, captioned photos and diagrams, a glossary, and an index.

THOUGHTS: This series contains worthwhile additions for any upper elementary or middle level library that needs to add colorfully-illustrated, high-interest books about popular sports topics to its collection. (Title Reviewed: It’s Outta Here! The Might and Majesty of the Home Run.)

796s Sports          Erin Faulkner, Cumberland Valley SD

MG – Much Ado about Baseball

LaRocca, Rajani. Much Ado About Baseball. Yellow Jacket, 2021. 978-1-499-81101-8. 312 p. $17.99. Grades 5-8.

Trish is annoyed with her mother for making her move again. It’s challenging enough being a girl who plays baseball, without being the new kid too. But she is determined to make what may be her last season of baseball awesome. Until she discovers Ben, the boy she beat in last spring’s regional Math Puzzler competition, is on the team. This could be a complicated problem to solve. Ben, who is reluctantly playing ball this summer, does not need Miss Math Puzzler genius showing him up in baseball, too. So the two 12-year-olds begin the season at odds with each other, despite the efforts of Ben’s pal Abhi, who quickly befriends Trish as well. But when Ben and Trish each receive a puzzle book in the mail, they quickly realize that the team’s sudden success may be tied into their ability to solve the puzzles, and they soon pair up. But the course of true love, whether math or baseball, never did run smooth. And with the machinations of a Puck or two, there is no guarantee of a solution to this Midsummer mess. This companion book to LaRocca’s Midsummer’s Mayhem delightfully pairs baseball, math, and Shakespeare in a lighthearted plot about friendship and family, relationships that are frequently complicated. Ben, Trish, and Abhi all have frustrations with their families, as well as negotiating friendships and self-esteem issues. A community theater production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream provides the context for a bit of Puckish magic, and a few fey individuals who wish to make the mortals look foolish. Readers who are not familiar with the Bard’s work still will thoroughly enjoy the book, but those with a knowledge of the play will enjoy the subtle (and eventually not so subtle) parallels running through the story. Trish and Abhi are Indian, Ben is white.

THOUGHTS: A blending of math and baseball may not attract all readers, but one does not have to be a fan of either to enjoy the book. LaRocca enthusiastically explains both, so readers may pick up an appreciation by the end of the story.

Fantasy (Magical Realism)          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Elem. – Diamond Double Play

Maddox, Jake. Diamond Double Play. Stone Arch, 2020. 978-1-496-58329-1. 64 p. $5.95 (paperback version). Grades 2-3.

Blake Easton is the neighborhood Wiffle ball star, but he has never played organized baseball. When he and his friends spot a poster advertising open tryouts for a local baseball travel team, Blake’s friends encourage him to try out. But Blake is nervous going up against more experienced players, especially when obnoxious Kyle starts taunting Blake as an inexperienced newbie. Luckily, Blake finds a friend in Austin, who shows Blake the ropes. While Blake makes the team, he is disappointed to learn he will be Kyle’s backup at second base. But when Kyle injures himself making a selfish play, Blake finds himself in the starting line up, and serious jitters set in. Is he really good enough to be on the team? This short, beginner chapter book combines authentic sports action with lessons on sportsmanship and confidence. The young characters (ages 11-12) frequently speak with maturity far beyond their ages, but the story will resonate with sports fans and players alike. The characters, as represented by the illustrations, are ethnically diverse; Blake is Black, Kyle is White, with teammates represented variously. A glossary at the end of the book defines baseball terms used in the text.

THOUGHTS:  A solid choice for Easy Fiction collections, where sports books are underrepresented.

Action/Adventure          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Elem. – Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball’s Negro Leagues

Henderson, Leah. Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball’s Negro Leagues. Capstone Editions, 2020. $18.95. Unpaged. Grades 3-6.

“‘I was a ballplayer. This is what I was and this is the way I want to be known, a ballplayer,’ Mamie “Peanut” Johnson.” Mamie Johnson grew up playing baseball with her uncle Leo, who was close to her age, starting at the age of 6 on the family’s farm in South Carolina. She moved several times over the years, but love for the game remained a constant in Mamie’s life as she earned spots on several boys’ and mens’ teams over the years. After graduating high school, Mamie attempted to try out for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, but was denied a try-out because she was black. Instead, Mamie went to play professional ball for the Negro Leagues Indianapolis Clowns team and spent three seasons traveling through Canada and the US (including the heavily segregated South) playing baseball. In 1955 she retired to return to her husband and young child, but her love for the game continued. Author Leah Henderson’s Afterword tells readers that Mamie was honored by Presidents Clinton and Obama and helped clear the plate for other female baseball players.

THOUGHTS: Leah Henderson captures Mamie’s spunk and spirit well in this beautiful picture book biography.

796.357 Baseball          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Elem. – History of Sports (Series NF)

Abdo, Kenny. History of Sports. ABDO Books, 2020. $20.00 ea. $120.00 set of 6.  24 p. Grades K-3. 

History of Basketball. 978-1-532-12738-0.
History of Baseball. 

History of Football. 978-1-532-12739-7.
History of Golf. 978-1-532-12740-3.
History of Gymnastics.  978-1-532-12741-0.
History of Soccer 978-1-532-12742-7.

History of Baseball gives a brief history of baseball, from the beginning to current times. The game of baseball is briefly explained; however, it is not an in depth explanation. There is a table of contents, glossary, and an index, as well as a page with a QR code that can be scanned for additional information. There are several full color photos found within the book  to demonstrate the different aspects of baseball that are being discussed.

THOUGHTS: This is a great introductory resource to help students learn how to use nonfiction books. This will definitely help any student who is not familiar with baseball to do research; however, it is extremely simple at times. Overall, this is a nice addition to an elementary nonfiction collection but not necessary.

796 Sports          Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Charter Academy