Change-Up: Mystery at the World Series
By Matt Berman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Mystery and ethics in sports journalism.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Contains information about sports and journalism.
The story revolves around a question of journalistic ethics, thus encouraging readers to think about ethical issues.
Positive Role Models
Stevie and Susan Carol are models of young gifted teens pursuing their passion for writing in an adult world, meeting deadlines, and being serious and dependable.
Violence & Scariness
A woman was killed in a car accident in the past, a girl slaps a boy, a man sets his dog after a boy, a brief fistfight.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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A bit of mild swearing and one use of "asshole."
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Products & Purchases
Soda, fast food, department store brands mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One of the characters is a reformed alcoholic, and the mystery revolves around an accident that may have involved drunk driving. Adults drink and get drunk. A discussion of chewing tobacco.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there is some discussion of drinking, drunkenness, and rehab, and the story revolves around a possible drunk driving accident in which a mother is killed. There's also a bit of mild swearing.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
Teen reporters Stevie and Susan Carol are covering the World Series when they meet the perfect story -- an aging minor-leaguer, widower, and single dad, called up to the majors just in time to pitch in the Series. But his story about how his wife died doesn't ring true, and since he is about to sign a deal for his life story, it seems worth investigating. With everyone involved telling lies, and whatever the truth is seeming destined to destroy a family, where does journalism end and privacy begin?
Is It Any Good?
This winning series does for bright kids who love to write what the Tom Swift series did for bright kids who love science. It provides a delightful fantasy of brilliant and talented kids operating with nearly complete freedom in the adult world and beating adults at their own game. Add in mystery, sports action, and in this case an ethical dilemma, and you get a winning formula that's fun and provokes both thought and daydreams.
Unlike others in this series, this isn't really about sports. There's a bit of sports action (which will be a bit hard to follow for anyone who doesn't know baseball pretty well), but it's mostly window dressing for a non-sports mystery with a strong ethical component. The story raises a host of interesting questions, some with a clear authorial opinion, some more ambiguous. How can we know the truth when everyone is lying? Is it ever a good thing to cover up the truth? What are the rights of famous people, journalists, and the reading public? Is fame worth the price?
From the Book:
He turned and saw a player standing at the locker. He had a bottle of champagne in his hands but clearly wasn't involved in the celebration. After seven games Stevie thought he knew all the Nationals players. But he was drawing a blank on both the face and the number, which was 56.
Apparently, the player noticed the blank look on Stevie's face, because he stuck his hand out and said, "Norbert Doyle. You've never heard of me because I've never done anything."
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about journalistic ethics. When, if ever, is it right to look into and expose someone's personal life? Do famous people have different rights than ordinary people? Should they? Do they have more or fewer rights?
Does Stevie make the right decision here? Why or why not?
Is fame worth the loss of privacy? Would you want to be famous? What do you think it would be like? What are the upsides and downsides?
- Author: John Feinstein
- Genre: Mystery
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
- Publication date: August 11, 2009
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 17
- Number of pages: 308
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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