Book review: Growing Up Pedro, by Matt Taveres

Taveres, Matt. Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues. Candlewick Press, 2015. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-9311-4. 39 pages. Ages 6-12. P7Q6.

This book is a delightful picture book biography of baseball player Pedro Martinez. Pedro grows up in poverty in the Dominican Republic. The determination and hard work are details that support the biography yet the importance of family and relationships makes this book a home run.

Verdict: this is would make a good addition to an early reader collection.

May 2017 review by Penny McDermott.

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Book review: The Aurora County All-Stars, by Deborah Wiles

Wiles, Deborah.  The Aurora County All-Stars. Harcourt, Inc., 2007.  $16.00.  ISBN 978-0-15-206068-8. 237 p.  Gr. 5 and up. P8Q8

wiles-aurora-county-all-starsHouse Jackson’s elbow has healed and he’s ready to resume his duties as star pitcher and captain of the Aurora County All-Stars, an all boys baseball team that gets to play one game this summer.  Unfortunately, the game is scheduled on the same day as the Aurora County bi-centennial celebration.  House and his nemesis, Ruby, must figure out a compromise so the game and pageant can both go on.

Verdict: I started this book several times and could not get into it.  When I realized it was a part of a series it made sense.  I realized I was stepping into the middle of well-established characters’ lives.  After I gave up the need to understand the backstories, I found I could enjoy it more.  Wiles writes with humor and understanding.  This book has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.  I think to understand that star rating, you’ll need to read the others in the series.

October 2016 review by Shelly Jones.

[Editor’s note: This is the third title in the Aurora County trilogy, beginning with Love, Ruby Lavender; then Each Little Bird that Sings; and, finally, The Aurora County All-Stars.]

Book review: Becoming Babe Ruth, by Matt Tavers

Tavares, Matt. Becoming Babe Ruth. (Candlewick Biographies series) Candlewick Press, 2013. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-8768-7. 40 pages. Ages 5-9. P8Q8 

Tavares Becoming Babe RuthSeven year old George Herman Ruth was an unruly rascal–skipping school, throwing tomatoes at passing wagons, and stealing money from stores. Desperate for George to make better choices, his parents enroll him in Saint Mary’s Industrial School for Boys.  Though George does not like following rules, he soon finds himself in a boarding school with very precise rules. Despite the strict rules at Saint Mary’s, George gets to play baseball every day. George quickly picks up the moniker Babe Ruth because of his youth. He keeps his new moniker as well as quickly becoming the biggest celebrity in New York City. Author’s note includes historical accounts, bibliography, pitching and hitting statistics and an index.

February 2016 review by Penny McDermott.

Book review: The Hero Two Doors Down, by Sharon Robinson

Robinson, Sharon. The Hero Two Doors Down. Scholastic, 2016. $16.99. ISBN 9780545804516. 195 pages. Ages 8-13. P9Q7.

Robinson Hero Two Doors DownThis story is based on the true story of a boy who became neighbors and friends with Jackie Robinson. In 1948 Brooklyn, Jackie Robinson is not only the first African American major league baseball player, but is also moving his family into an all-Jewish neighborhood–the first black family in the community.  Some neighbors are against while others welcome the newcomers.

Steven Satlow is an impulsive 8 year old boy who gets into some trouble in the early pages of this book. A Dodgers fan, Steven is worried that his teacher will give the poor report of his behavior to his family. So, he reacts by pushing his teacher as if this is the answer to preventing the communication with home. When Steven finds out that his new neighbor is none other than Jackie Robinson, he is thrilled. Diversity and ‘change is inevitable,’ Steve’s dad would say. My students were enthralled with this story written by Robinson’s daughter.

February 2016 review by Penny McDermott.

Book review: Dead in the Water, by Chris Lynch

Lynch, Chris.  Dead in the Water. (World War II, Book 2).  Scholastic Press, 2014.  ISBN 978-0-545-52298-4.  188 pages, $17.99.  Grades 6-12. P7Q7.

Lynch Dead in the WaterThe main characters Hank and Theo are brothers drafted for WWII, Hank on a Navy aircraft carrier as an Airedale, and Theo into the Air force.  For the first time in their lives the two boys are separated.  The book had a slow start with many setting references to a small town on the East Coast.  Once Hank boards the Yorktown aircraft carrier, the book takes on a quicker pace and captured my interest.  Hank learns the ins and outs of his daily routine as an Airedale, develops good friendships, experiences foreign lands, war, life and death situations, and fear of the unknown.  I particularly liked the references and connections to the deep love of baseball between the brothers and the father.  They play catch to work out their problems and anger management. The book also deals with the realities of African American segregation among soldiers. This is a high interest book for boys interested in historical fiction about war.

June 2015 review by Andrea Kopshever.