cover image Batting Order

Batting Order

Mike Lupica. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5344-2155-4

Bestselling author Lupica has mastered the ingredients of a feel-good sports story: a likable athletic protagonist, play-by-play game scenes, and come-from-behind victories. And he sticks to that recipe in this leisurely story about small-for-his-age middle schooler Matt Baker, who’s “always felt big on the baseball field” despite his size. The star second baseman on his summer All-Star Little League team, Matt lives with his single mother and has a stutter that shows up at the least opportune moments. But his mom and his speech therapist both provide ample support in life, as do his coach and friends. The story seems to center more at times around Matt’s teammate Ben, who is bigger and flashier, and who, at his controlling father’s urging, insists on swinging for the fences even when it costs his team the game. When Ben asks Matt for batting help, the two boys forge a tentative friendship—one that will be tested many times throughout the season. Sports fans will enjoy the baseball references and the easy camaraderie between Matt and his teammates. In the end, Lupica brings his message back to the merits of being a good teammate and never giving up, mantras that young sports fans never tire of seeing play out. Ages 8–12. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. [em](May) [/em]