From the Publisher
Praise for the Comeback Kids:
“Lupica portrays the action clearly and vividly, with a real sense of the excitement and unpredictable nature of the games. These are worthy additions to collections seeking to draw in middle-grade boys with an enthusiasm for athletics.” –School Library Journal
“These should score big with middle-graders looking for alternatives to Matt Christopher's titles.” –Publisher’s Weekly
“This title is a good choice for reluctant readers with a background in baseball.” –School Library Journal
Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Nick Crandell loves to play baseball. He is the catcher for the junior varsity team and is looking forward to playing on the summer baseball team. One day, he notices the varsity coach watching him practice and though he thinks little about it, he is amazed when the coach comes up to him and offers him the catcher's position on the varsity teama position now not next year. The varsity catcher has broken a wrist and the team needs Nick. However, the uncertainty of being able to play with the older boys seeks to destroy the remarkable chance that Nick has been given. The older boys are not happy to have the JV player on their team and the pressure of their displeasure affects Nick's confidence and play. It is not long before the lack of confidence infiltrates all of Nick's life; his relationships with friends, with family, with school all suffer as he struggles to prove his ability to play varsity. One big blow out with his best friend, Gracie, and Nick knows that he must rethink his complaints against those who really do care about him. This is a sweet story of young teen identity and how sports can both help and hurt that process. Lupica's fans will enjoy this addition to his "Comeback Kids" series for young readers. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Nick Crandall, a seventh grader, is looking forward to being the star catcher of his junior varsity baseball team. However, when the varsity team catcher is injured, Nick must suit up behind the plate with the eighth graders. Frustrated by Nick's presence, the team members go to great lengths to make the boy feel unwelcome. Nick cracks under the pressure. As with most Mike Lupica novels, Nick's home life plays a significant role in this installment (Philomel, 2008) in the series. The fact that Nick is adopted, and that his parents are both professors with little interest in sports, are burdens for Nick to bear. Predictably, Nick saves the day at the big game, and even finds a way to connect with his dad, all within a few weeks. This title is a good choice for reluctant readers with a background in baseball, as not all terminology is explained. Keith Nobbs's narration helps to build tension and excitement. While Nick's emotional intelligence is a bit advanced for his age, it allows the story to move at a rapid pace. For boys and girls who have outgrown novels by Matt Christopher.—Richelle Roth, Boone County Public Library, Florence, KY
Read an Excerpt
More than anything, Nick Crandall’s real family had always been baseball.
He’d always felt that way about the teams he’d played on, since his first T-ball team. And he felt that way about the teams in the majors he followed, usually the ones with the best catchers, because Nick was a catcher, too.
Baseball was the only thing that made Nick feel like he really belonged. There were a lot of reasons why he loved baseball season, but that was the biggest.
Maybe everybody else on junior varsity at the Hayworth School, all the other sixth and seventh-graders on the team, looked at the calendar and thought the school year was coming to an end.
As far as he was concerned, everything was just beginning.
School baseball was for the spring, and that was his only team in the spring, because Paul and Brenda Crandall had one rule about sports: one team per season. Even that was all right with Nick. He got to play school ball every day except on the weekends, and he could look forward to playing in their town’s summer Little League from the end of June into August.
So when he looked at the calendar, all he could see was baseball, practically all the way until school started again in the fall.
It was the first week of tryouts for JV, even though hardly anybody thought of them as tryout tryouts, because everybody who came out made the team. Some guys did get cut off varsity, made up of eighth- and ninth-graders, depending on how many came out. But even those guys, no matter how old they were, got moved down to JV if they still wanted to play.
Nobody moved up, though.
You didn’t get to play varsity at Hayworth until you were in eighth. Nobody was sure if it was an official written-down rule. But if you played sports at Hayworth, and everybody had to play at least one, you knew that’s how things were done.
Nick didn’t care. No way did he care. He was in no rush to play varsity, anyway. The varsity catcher, Bobby Mazzilli, was graduating with the rest of his class in June. So in Nick’s mind, a mind filled with baseball stuff the way his desk drawers were filled with baseball cards and magazines, next year he had a good shot at being varsity catcher.
That was no sure thing, of course, even though things seemed to be set up just right for him. Because more than anything he knew about baseball, Nick knew this:
There were no sure things in your life.