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Beanball Hardcover – February 18, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5–9—A high school athlete is seriously injured by a wild pitch, and he, his family and friends, teachers, coaches, and eyewitnesses share their reactions and feelings about the incident in free-verse monologues. Luke "Wizard" Wallace is a determined, talented player, and a leader on the field and off. Then, in a game versus their archrivals, he leans into a fastball thrown by Kyle Dawkins and is hit by a pitch that leaves him blind in one eye. This plot-driven, brief novel is a page-turner, though its protagonist and supporting characters are one-dimensional. Most are defined chiefly by their relation to Luke: the sympathetic coach; the "win at all costs" coach; his loyal friends and family. Fehler's straightforward story may appeal to die-hard sports fans, but Scott Johnson's Safe at Second (Philomel, 1999) and Carl Deuker's High Heat (Houghton, 2003), two novels that also deal with sports accidents and their aftermath, offer both compelling story lines and memorable characters.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
In his debut novel, Fehler succeeds at every level.
Poet and baseball enthusiast Fehler should attract a crowd with his first YA novel, narrated by 28 narrators in free-verse monlogues. . . . Fehler does an excellent job in pacing his shifts of perspective, and the central story, of Luke's friendships and eventual recovery, comes through with drama and clarity.
The short, terse narrative will attract reluctant readers, and Luke's nightmarish ordeal will keep them turning the pages.
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Luke Wallace is known as "Wizard." Star baseball, football, and basketball player by his junior year in high school, he already has college and pro scouts showing up at his games. But if any scouts showed up at the game against Oak Grove's rival school Compton, they probably left shaking their heads.
Compton's top-notch pitcher, instructed to throw an inside pitch, loses control and hits Luke right in the face. He goes down, as the umpire describes, "like he was shot." The players, the fans, his parents, and friends are stunned. The ambulance arrives and transports Luke to the ICU at the local hospital.
Now, instead of facing a brilliant sports career, Luke is facing several surgeries and a prolonged recovery. Knowledge that he has lost the sight in his left eye has Luke fighting to find a reason to get better and get on with his life. The tragedy of Luke's accident is felt throughout his community.
BEANBALL is written in verse with a wide cast of characters telling Luke's story from a variety of view points. Although I assigned a grade-level of 9+, this could easily be an acceptable read for 7th- and 8th-graders, as well. Reluctant readers with an interest in sports will be wanting more when they finish BEANBALL.
Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"