Gr 4-7—Nick Crandall, a seventh grader, is looking forward to being the star catcher of his junior varsity baseball team. However, when the varsity team catcher is injured, Nick must suit up behind the plate with the eighth graders. Frustrated by Nick's presence, the team members go to great lengths to make the boy feel unwelcome. Nick cracks under the pressure. As with most Mike Lupica novels, Nick's home life plays a significant role in this installment (Philomel, 2008) in the series. The fact that Nick is adopted, and that his parents are both professors with little interest in sports, are burdens for Nick to bear. Predictably, Nick saves the day at the big game, and even finds a way to connect with his dad, all within a few weeks. This title is a good choice for reluctant readers with a background in baseball, as not all terminology is explained. Keith Nobbs's narration helps to build tension and excitement. While Nick's emotional intelligence is a bit advanced for his age, it allows the story to move at a rapid pace. For boys and girls who have outgrown novels by Matt Christopher.—Richelle Roth, Boone County Public Library, Florence, KY
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