Ballpark Mysteries Series

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Ballpark Mysteries Series Book Poster Image
Bro and sis solve fun mysteries in major-league ballparks.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Geography and history are covered with the descriptions of each city and ballpark, but the mysteries show the importance of critical thinking, intuition, and emotional intelligence as well.

Positive Messages

Kate and Mike try to solve mysteries not because they want a reward, but because they genuinely want to help other people.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kate's dad is a major league scout, her mom is a sports reporter, and every adult they come in contact with is kind and helpful.

Violence & Scariness

Occasionally, Kate and Mike find themselves in trouble while working on a mystery, but everything is solved within a page or two, so there's no long, tense, nightmare-inducing drama.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that David A. Kelly's Ballpark Mysteries series is an upbeat bunch of whodunits for baseball fans of all ages. Readers will enjoy solving mysteries with Kate and Mike, and parents reading aloud will enjoy the ballpark trivia specific to the location in each book. The two baseball-junkie kids never face any true danger while they're sleuthing, and their days are filled with jokes, ballpark adventures, and earnest quests to discover the truth. The lessons in these books go beyond the academic: The star of one baseball team almost quits because he thinks he's a disappointment to his dad, but Kate and Mike set him straight -- surprisingly deep emotions for an early reader book. These books are about baseball, but gender stereotypes are nowhere to be found here. In a lovely detail for Little League fans, author David A. Kelly dedicated one of his books to pitcher Mo'Ne Davis, the first girl to win a Little League World Series game and to pitch a LLWS shutout. This series is a great choice for both boys and girls. 

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What's the story?

In the BALLPARK MYSTERIES series, Kate and her cousin Mike go to each major league ballpark with her parents, a sports reporter and a baseball scout -- which explains the kids' VIP access to players, parks, and managers. In every city, in every park, there's a mystery -- something is missing, something was stolen, someone is too secretive -- and the two kids try to solve the mysteries while enjoying the city's sights and, of course, watching a ballgame. At the end of every book is a bunch of trivia about the city, team, and ballpark so young fans can read up on their favorite places and maybe learn something new about their hometown ballpark.

Is it any good?

This is a surprisingly good series; the mysteries aren't formulaic, the vocabulary and lessons are simple -- great for readers of early chapter books -- and the stories are fun. The mysteries aren't always about a lost item or a crime; sometimes they're more about figuring out the best way to help someone. From kayaks in McCovey Cove (at San Francisco's AT&T Park) to a carousel in Detroit to a hotel inside the ballpark in Toronto and more, the cool aspects of each ballpark are fun parts of each story, and trivia buffs will dig into all the details.

The Ballpark Mysteries Series effortlessly normalizes gender equality: Kate's mom being a female sports reporter is never called out, she's simply going to work and bringing Kate and Mike along, and Kate and Mike love baseball equally. It's refreshing when equality is normal, and girls who often feel that baseball books are written for boys will likely feel differently about these.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the kids in the Ballpark Mysteries are able to roam free so often. Would you feel OK snooping around your local stadium? What age do you think it's OK for kids to wander without their parents?

  • Kate and Mike have constant access to dugouts and locker rooms and baseball stars. What would it be like to be able to walk into a dugout and chat up a player? What would you ask?

  • What other books are set in the world of sports?

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