By Matt Berman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Engaging story about a pitching prodigy.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Positive themes of loving family and friends and overcoming odds. Some lying and dishonest actions, but for good reason.
Positive Role Models
The boys, and their adult friends, lie to the authorities. Carlos scalps tickets. A rival player makes racist remarks.
Products & Purchases
Fast food (McDonalds), candy, cookie, clothing, and drink brands mentioned approvingly.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there's not much to be concerned about here: some lying, though for good reasons; some dishonest actions, with lessons learned; and some products (including food brands) mentioned approvingly.
Where to Read
Based on 8 parent reviews
The Heat is a great Lesson Too!
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What's the Story?
Michael, an unusually talented 12-year-old pitcher on his Little League team, has a lot going on at home that only his best friend Manny and the kindly lady upstairs in his apartment building, Mrs. C., know about. Born in Cuba, Michael lost his mother to cancer when he was very young. His father brought Michael and his brother Carlos to America with the hope of seeing Michael pitch in the Little League World Series. Now his father is dead too, and and he and Carlos are trying to keep it a secret until Carlos, just months shy of his 18th birthday, can legally assume custody of Michael. But Children's Services are getting suspicious, and a rival coach and player have accused Michael of being older than he claims, causing him to be suspended until he can find proof. Something needs to go right -- and soon.
Is It Any Good?
Even with all life's hardships and heartbreak, this book reaffirms that it's still a beautiful world. It sounds like a classic setup at first: poor, orphaned, but surprisingly cheerful and well-adjusted boy triumphs -- with the help of family love and good friends -- over insurmountable odds, including the devious, mean rich coach of the rival team and his spoiled son. It's a cliché from start to finish, right? So why doesn't it feel that way?
Partly, it's because sportswriter Mike Lupica's muscular prose shines on the ballfield. Partly, it's because the author knows that a truly satisfying ending has nothing to do with winning a ballgame. And, partly, it's because clichés get used a lot because they work. It's precisely the familiarity, the predictability, and the lack of realism that make this so affecting.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Michael's situation. What would you do in his place? Why did he treat Ellie the way he did? Why does his pitching talent cause others to do so much for him?
Also, were Justin's and his father's actions in any way justified?
- Author: Mike Lupica
- Genre: Sports
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Penguin Group
- Publication date: April 16, 2006
- Number of pages: 220
- Last updated: September 30, 2015
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