Buddies, Bullies, and Baseball by Phyllis J. Perry

I was offered a copy of this short (about 100 pages) middle grade fiction title and it was a fun and entertaining story about a 5th grader who has to deal with some bullies at school and who loves baseball. The story was very relatable and I think most kids would find this it appealing. It was a quick read and one that would appeal to reluctant readers.

I’m so glad that I got to read and review it, and I will be sharing it with my school library. Thank you for my copy!

Here’s the overview:

A cloud hangs over Jack as he begins fifth grade. Two boys from his class, Steve and Cliff, who began bullying him last spring, harass him again as soon as school starts. They take brownies and cookies from his lunch and call him “Mustard” because they think he’s a coward. When Jack walks a different route to school to avoid them, they find him anyway. When he doesn’t take a lunch but brings lunch money, they steal his money. When he rides his bike to school, they let the air out of the tires. Jack is miserable but he’s ashamed to ask for help and doesn’t want to tell anyone about his problem.

Lizabeth and C.J are Jack’s best friends. C.J. has his own problems. He needs help to learn reading, and Steve makes fun of him, calling him “Retardo.” A new boy in school, Hans Ollig from Germany, speaks only a little English and is trying hard to learn to talk like the other kids. Jack is assigned to show him around the school.

Members of Jack’s family are all baseball fans and tremendously excited that the Colorado Rockies are going to be in the World Series. Jack’s uncle has given him an old glove from his high school days. When Jack takes the glove to school, it disappears.

Jack and his fifth grade buddies welcome a new student, Hans, into their group. Hans speaks only a little English but is enthusiastic and a quick learner. All of them are baseball fans and thrilled that their Colorado Rockies team will be in the World Series.

Jack and his buddies must find a way to get his baseball glove back and celebrate at the World Series as a team.

Follow the links for more info (from the publisher):

Here is the link to the book:

Buddies, Bullies, and Baseball  

Here is the publisher’s website link:

http://www.tckpublishing.com

And here is the author’s website:

http://www.phyllisjperry.com/

Kids’ Review: AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS and AL CAPONE SHINES MY SHOES by Gennifer Choldenko

A while ago, someone asked me if I had read the “Al Capone” series for kids. I hadn’t and she said I should check them out as they were good. A few weeks ago we were at the library doing homework and my daughter saw “Al Capone Does My Shirts”. We took it out and I ended up stealing it from her. I then read the next book in the series, “Al Capone Shines my Shoes”, and I plan to read the third, “Al Capone Does My Homework”.

In these books, it is the mid-1930’s, and Matthew “Moose” Flanagan and his family live on the island of Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay where the notorious gangster Al Capone is doing his time. Moose’s dad works as an electrician on the island. Moose befriends the other children whose fathers work as jailers, wardens, plumbers, and the like. Moose has an older sister, Natalie, who has some developmental delays and differences (similar to autism). Part of this book is Moose’s adventures with the other kids, the scrapes they get into, the prisoners they try to interact with, and their every day life at home and school. The other part of the novel is the relationships between Moose and the others, and especially with his sister. The character of Natalie and her interactions with Moose and their parents are so sensitively and touchingly portrayed that at one point they brought tears to my eyes. (Gennifer Choldenko writes in the author’s notes that she had a sister with developmental differences and Natalie is in part based on her).

I just loved these books! I think middle grade and middle school readers would enjoy them, both boys and girls. They are fun and exciting, yet realistic and sensitive. The characters are so true to life, I think, because they are basically portrayed with their flaws and weaknesses showing. I have recommended them for our school library.