Monday, November 19, 2012

Super-Sized Slugger a novel by Cal Ripken Jr. review

Cal Ripken, Jr.'s All-Stars: Super-Sized Slugger
Cody Parker may be overweight (he prefers the word burly), but he plays third base like a dream. Too bad no one knows it yet, because he’s new to Baltimore, where he’s a target—okay, a big target—for brutal teasing. Even worse, he’s competing for the starting job on the Orioles of the Dulaney Babe Ruth League against budding hoodlum Dante Rizzo, who vows to squeeze Cody’s head like a grape if Cody beats him out. Life gets even more complicated when York Middle School is beset by a rash of mysterious thefts, a crime wave that threatens to sideline Cody—and ruin a golden season for the Orioles. Will Cody ever succeed in getting people to see him for who he really is?(goodreads summary)

Thirteen year old Cody has a difficult adjustment when he moves from Wisconsin to his new home in Baltimore.  Being a "big guy" is tough for Cody and he worries if he will fit in at his new school.  Cody does have an incredible talent for baseball and he can't wait to try out for the local team, the Orioles. This adds more trouble when he vies for the same position as Dante, the school bully. The coach recognizes Cody's natural ability and places him at third base making Dante not only an unhappy teammate but classmate as well.  After showing the team what he can do on the field, Cody is finding it easier to make friends. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to get along with Dante.  Jessica, a neighbor girl who has spunk and an incredible sports talent herself, stands up to Dante when he threatens Cody one day at school. Cody and Jessica soon build a strong friendship that will include helping to solve a mystery. There is a rash of thefts occurring at the middle school by some inside or outside thieves and Cody has a strange suspicion of who it might be.  With everything happening all at once, Cody must prove to his classmates that the new kid in town can be more than meets the eye.

I think this is another great book from the Cal Ripken, Jr. series that could appeal to either boys or girls.  Just like in Hothead, this second book is full of sports lingo and subtle messages that kids can identify with but also adds the twist of a mystery. The main characters of Cody and Jessica are positive role models when it comes to standing up for yourself and for others.  Jessica jumps in and takes on Dante when the situation gets out of hand, showing courage to be a strong voice instead of being a quiet witness.  Cody also proves to the others they shouldn't judge a book by its' cover with his athletic ability and positive attitude. When trying to solve the theft ring, this part of the story had some good suspense and action to keep the reader engaged until the end. The story wraps itself up with a championship game that is full of excitement and expresses the importance of teamwork.  I also connected to many things mentioned in the storyline because I live in Wisconsin. There were many references to the City of Milwaukee and the Brewers, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun ( yeah, MVP!), Miller Park Stadium and our local newspaper The Journal/Sentinel. I think that sparks excitement and great interest for kids when an author uses realistic references they know about and can relate to.  This book was quick and fast-paced and a good fit for a reluctant reader as well. I hope to see more books in the future about the team and its' characters because they could make for many positive learning experiences for its readers. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 10-13.~

Title: Super-Sized Slugger a novel by Cal Ripken, Jr.
Author: Cal Ripken, Jr. with Kevin Cowherd
Pub. Date: March 2012, Hyperion
Genre: middle grade, realistic fiction
Hardcover, 183 pgs.



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