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Batter up for Opening Day 2017!

The sun is shining (thank goodness — we need it after the slushy start to April this weekend) as a new season of America’s national pastime begins today. Down the street at Fenway Park, our Red Sox are set to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon. Go Sox!

Meanwhile, here at The Horn Book Guide, we’re wrapping up the Spring 2017 print issue. Among the 2,360 (!) books reviewed were a few “home run” intermediate fiction titles about baseball that caught my eye.

bishop_distance to homeBishop, Jenn  The Distance to Home
Gr. 4–6     231 pp.     Random     2016

In chapters alternating between “this summer” and “last summer,” when her beloved older sister died, talented pitcher Quinnen works through her family’s unresolved grief. Having quit baseball, Quinnen initially resents the minor league ballplayer boarding in their home, but her love of the game gradually rekindles as she processes her loss. Bishop’s solid debut is an engaging mix of family drama and baseball.

 

feinstein_dhFeinstein, John  The DH
Gr. 4–6
     295 pp.     Knopf     2016

Alex’s baseball season begins with a surprise: his friend Matt wins the appeal of his PED suspension in football (The Walk On). However, Matt’s baseball prowess and desire to prove himself challenge their friendship. Series fans will engage with these returning characters as they maneuver jealousy and loyalty within their team, families, and friendships. Dramatized sports action scenes reward baseball fans.

 

lorenzi_long pitch homeLorenzi, Natalie Dias  A Long Pitch Home
Gr. 4–6    
248 pp.     Charlesbridge     2016

Ten-year-old Bilal struggles to fit in after he immigrates from Pakistan to Virginia. Bilal also longs for his father — trapped in Pakistan by a legal dilemma — to join them. Writing in the first person, Lorenzi empathetically conveys Bilal’s confusions over language, the dissimilarities between cricket and baseball, and the misogyny of his teammates toward their only girl teammate.

 

For more books on this topic, check out last year’s spotlight on baseball-player picture book bios. Subscribe to The Horn Book Guide Online, where you can find over twenty-five years of baseball books reviewed. And now it’s time to play ball!

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Cynthia K. Ritter About Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is associate editor of The Horn Book Guide. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons College.

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