Post #25: Safe At Home

I basically was really terrible today, and instead of finding things at work to occupy myself (I got the requirements done, I promise!), I did everything that needed to be done – checkout, putting books away/straightening shelves, covering the last of our new books – and then … read a book. :)) So, post number twenty-five is for Mike Lupica's Safe At Home, which is another of this year's Mark Twain Award Nominees.

This book is about a boy who plays catcher for his school's baseball team. It's chocked full of baseball terms – which, as an avid Cardinals fan were not any trouble for me personally – and therefore could pose a problem for the majority of our students, because baseball isn't really a sport they follow (I am using a generalization here, but for the most part, what I'm saying is true). I already had one student bring the book back to me and ask to switch it for another, saying it was hard to get into (because of the baseball stuff) and that she'd wait a little longer to read it. So, wondering how rough of a read it would be, I went ahead and read it myself.

Brief spoilers follow.

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Nick is a catcher, who is also an adopted child. He is in middle school – seventh grade – and is experiencing some growing pains, mostly because he's just unexpectedly been promoted to the Varsity baseball team and is so surprised/shocked/nervous/etc. that he starts making very uncharacteristic mistakes. His grades are also suffering, causing strife with his college professor (adopted) parents, and he feels like his dad just can't relate to him because he just "doesn't get baseball".

While, yes, the book has a crazy amount of sports terms, the baseball really isn't the main point. The book is supposed to be about overcoming your fears and being yourself (it's also something of a "coming of age" story). Nick has a fantastic female friend (yet another strong female character that I like a lot) named Gracie, and she helps him work through his issues. Along the way, his dad and him bond over King Arthur, and the book ends up with a nice, solid ending. I don't know how well it will do with the voting, though, because of the heavy baseball-ness of it. I liked it, but I like baseball. If you're unfamiliar with the sport, I have a feeling this is not going to be a good book for you to read.

(Unrelated, but I wanted to jot this title down somewhere so I could remember it. One of the sixth graders returned a book called Waiting for Odysseus by Clemence McLaren that is a youth-aimed retelling of The Odyssey. The little blurb on the inside front cover sounds really interesting, and I am a huge Trojan War/Greek Mythology nerd, so it's right up my alley. I am definitely going to check this out once I have some "free" time. :-P

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