Review of Slugfest

Slugfest Slugfest
by Gordon Korman
Middle School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    304 pp.
1/24    9780063238091    $19.99
e-book ed.  9780063238114    $11.99

Eighth grader Arnie Yashenko hits a lot of home runs playing for the high school’s JV baseball team. Problem is, he’s been missing middle-school gym classes to practice at the high school, and now the state has changed the rules: if he doesn’t take summer school PE, he won’t graduate and can’t start high school in the fall. But if he does the class, he’ll miss the workouts necessary for pitching for the JV Comets. Besides (and Yash knows he sounds like a “stuck-up jerk” here), he can’t mingle with the uncoordinated unfortunates who attend summer school PE. “There’s a name around here for the people who end up in that class—slugs! That’s why they call it Slugfest!” Chapters alternate between Yash and other reluctant summer school attendees, including Cleo Marchand, who’s there because of incompletes for missed time due to a skiing accident. (The others’ first-person narratives save readers from an overload of Yash’s self-absorption.) Star athlete and local legend Yash starts the season playing tag; duck, duck, goose; and musical chairs and, by the end of the term, is part of a team he loves. The team’s musical-chairs experience even serves them well in a city-wide seven-on-seven flag football tournament. Yash learns the value of friendship and teamwork in this big-hearted novel.

Pubissue-From the March/April 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches eighth grade English at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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