Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Baseball Great is Good Suspense

Last year one of my fourth grade boys, I'll call him Connor, asked if I had read Tim Green's novel Football Genius. I hadn't but I'm always on the look out for a new sports author so I checked it out. I have to give him credit, Connor found a good one, so I put I bought one and put it on the shelf and it's not in very often.

For those of you that aren't familiar with his story, Tim Green is a former professional football player from the Atlanta Falcons so he knows what he's talking about when he writes football. In fact, the plot of Football Genius involves the Atlanta Falcons. So I was a bit surprised when I saw a baseball book written by Tim Green on the new book shelf at my local library. Since March Madness is over, it is officially baseball season and I like to find at least one baseball book to introduce in the library each year and this one is it.

Baseball Great is the story of a 12 year old baseball phenom named Josh whose father has had success in the minor leagues, but never made it to the big leagues. Early in the book he is let go by his most recent team and the plan is to cover up the firing with a retirement celebration during the season. Due to his frustration, Dad pulls Josh from the middle school team saying it's not good enough and if Josh wants to develop into the pro that everyone predicts he needs to play for a better squad. Josh tries out for and makes the local travel powerhouse called the Titans, even making the team that is two years older than he is. It's convenient also that Josh's father gets a job working for the sponsor, a former body builder Rocky Valentine, that has all of the boys lifting weights and drinking his own supplement, Super Stax.

It's not long before some of Josh's older team mates are introducing him to the pills they take to get stronger, faster. Immediately, Josh is suspicious and invites his friend Jaden, whose father is a doctor, investigate what is going on. Torn between wanting to please his father by becoming the best player he can be, and doing what's right, Josh is forced to make choices that are not easy for an adult, let alone a 12 year old kid.

Tim Green writes sports novels in a way that make them tough to put down. Baseball Great has some exciting baseball action, but the suspense, mystery and drama will keep the reader's attention to the end. Just when I thought I had predicted what would happen, Tim Green threw me a curve to keep me interested.

I'm anxious to share this one with the fifth graders.

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