Middle Grade New Releases, Week of March 17, 2020

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to this middle grade book making its rounds through our reviewers! 

by Derrick Barnes; Illustrated by JohnJohn Bajet
March 17th 2020 ~ Workman Publishing Company

Photo and Review by Kate ~ originally on Instagram @kateteaching7and8

This fascinating and fun middle grades nonfiction book focuses on telling the remarkable and unsung history of America’s favorite pastime, baseball. The book is divided into 4 chapters (sections): Pivotal Players, Sensational Stories, Radical Records, and Colossal Comebacks. It celebrates many unknown players and individuals who have made significant contributions to the world of baseball. For example, John “Bud” Fowler, William Edward White, Moses Fleetwood Walker, and Weldy Wiberforce Walker–four African Americans who integrated major league teams decades before Jackie Robinson. It is filled with 45 fascinating records, personalities, and anecdotes that are rarely mentioned.

This was a captivating read. Baseball is by far my favorite sport, so I was incredibly excited to learn more about its history and players. I loved that this book focuses on stories and individuals who aren’t well known in popular baseball lore. I also liked that Pivotal Players chapter included individuals who weren’t actual baseball players, but were instead key players in moving the game forward like Kim Ng and Henry Chadwick. All of the stories were interesting and many were quite humorous. I learned a lot about baseball and learned that things that I believed to be truths, like Jackie Robinson being the first African American to integrate into the major leagues, weren’t actually accurate. Another great thing about this book are the illustrations. Bajet does an amazing job of bringing the players and stories to life. The images are just the right amount of cartoony to be entertaining, without taking them into the realm of overly comical. This is the perfect book for baseball lovers and would make a great addition to any middle grade library.

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