A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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
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.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.