cover image Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy Baseball

Alan Gratz, Dial, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3463-0

Continuing to use baseball as backdrop, Gratz (The Brooklyn Nine) moves from historical fiction to fantasy with a story that playfully mixes storybook characters with stadium action. When Alex finds himself in Ever After he's sure he's dreaming—case in point, he's recruited to play in a high-stakes tournament for a team captained by Dorothy Gale, she of the ruby red cleats. Dorothy's teammates include lesser-known Oz characters like Tik-Tok, Scraps, and Button Bright, who's in danger of fading away because nobody reads the sequel he appears in. They insist Alex is a "Lark," somebody's daydream, and not a book character at all, but they keep him because the kid can flat-out play. Eventually, Alex figures out whose daydream he is in a thread that adds poignancy and tension to a slightly unwieldy narrative, as the Oz team encounters Mother Goose, the critters from Redwall, L'Engle's Charles Wallace and Mrs. Which and Whatsit, among numerous literary cameos. The predictable ending is the only one possible, but Gratz frames it with an interesting question about what effect dreams can hope to have on the dreamer. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)