Prolific sports writer Stout starts off his new series for middle-grade readers, Good Sports, with this strong title that focuses on the careers of four trailblazing ballplayers: Hank Greenburg, Jackie Robinson, Fernando Valenzuela, and Ila Borders. Each athlete was devoted to the game of baseball, and as a result, advanced not only the rights of minorities and women but also helped to make baseball a game for everyone. Stout writes with conviction and does not sugarcoat the hateful, sometimes racially motivated comments these players endured. He highlights pivotal moments in each athlete’s life, showing that their barrier breaking did not happen in a vacuum but grew from previous experiences, such as Robinson’s distinguished military career and Borders’ childhood Little League games, during which she was heckled by her competitors’ parents. Stout’s action-packed, suspenseful descriptions of milestone games will easily draw young people’s interest, and an author’s note, sources for further reading, and career statistics for each of the players round out this well-paced book. Give this to fans of Matt Christopher, Mike Lupica, and Dan Gutman. Grades 3-6. --Kara Dean
From the Author
My goal for the "Good Sports" series is to provide interesting and compelling stories of athletes that reflect positive values and life lessons young people can use on and off the field, and to motivate young people to read and write, which I believe can be life changing experiences; I know there were for me. There is no doubt that reading is the best way for a young person to learn to write well, and that the experience of writing also teaches one how to think and learn.
I created the Good Sports series based on feedback I received from hundreds of young people, teachers and parents during school visits over the last decade, an experience I enjoy and hope to continue. On these visits I learned that young readers want books about sports with plenty of action that also tell stories that have meaning to their lives and experience. Parents want books they can feel good about giving their child, and teachers want books that can motivate children who are otherwise uninterested in reading to pick up a book and expand their world. As a writer, there is nothing more gratifying than having a teacher tell me that my books have inspired a non-reader not only to read one of my books, but to ask for another book to read. Each minute a child spends reading is one minute he or she is building toward a positive future.
The next two Good Sports titles are "Yes She Can! Women's Sports Pioneers," and "Soldier Athletes: Doing Their Duty."
I look forward to hearing from teachers, parents and especially my readers.