Slumpbuster (The Super Sluggers Series)

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Overview

They call me Walloper because I'm no ordinary hitter.

Or at least that used to be the case. Now I couldn't hit a beach ball and my batting average is going down faster than the Titanic. With the pennant on the line, I've got a slump cloud over my head so big it's being covered by the Weather Channel. The forecast is grim, but I hope there's one big swing left in my bat so the Rambletown Rounders can win the pennant and I can end this historic...

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Overview

They call me Walloper because I'm no ordinary hitter.

Or at least that used to be the case. Now I couldn't hit a beach ball and my batting average is going down faster than the Titanic. With the pennant on the line, I've got a slump cloud over my head so big it's being covered by the Weather Channel. The forecast is grim, but I hope there's one big swing left in my bat so the Rambletown Rounders can win the pennant and I can end this historic drought.

Kevin Markey's debut novel is a hilarious tall tale of baseball action and high jinks that will have fans reveling in every trip around the pages.

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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The comically deadpan reactions of Slump observers, the tautly drawn action scenes, and the snappy pacing of the short chapters are nicely pitched to readers just hitting their stride with full-length novels.”
ALA Booklist
“Straightforward, sunny.”
Family Fun Magazine
“Hits it out of the park. Full of funny characters and fast-paced action (on and off the field), this series may be just the ticket for kids who live and breathe America’s pastime.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The comically deadpan reactions of Slump observers, the tautly drawn action scenes, and the snappy pacing of the short chapters are nicely pitched to readers just hitting their stride with full-length novels.”
Newsday/Kidsday
“I give this book 4 out of 5 smiles.”—Michael Roberts, Reporter, Age 9
Children's Literature - Paul Walter
"In this weather, warming up was easy. You got warm just breathing. Fortunately, we weren't in danger of overheating against the Lumberjacks. Those kids were born to cut trees. Taking cuts at the plate was another story. They knew how to saw lumber, but they didn't know how to swing it. They could chop wood all day, but they couldn't tell a chop grounder from chopped liver." Unfortunately for Banjo Hit Bishbash, AKA Banjie, AKA the Walloper, the stifling summer of Rambletown hardball heats up not with the Lumberjacks but with a visit from the Hog City Haymakers, the roughest, toughest team in the league. While Banjie/Walloper is the most punishing hitter on the Rambletown Rounders, the visit from the merciless Haymakers and the jinx of his reporter friend Gabby's headline—"Walloper Set to Swing into Action Against Haymakers!"—turns the season sour and dumps Banjie in a devastating slump. Although the town, in the middle of the heat wave, could have used some rainy relief, the slump-related rain cloud that literally follows Banjie around is certainly of no comfort to the slugger. Banjie is eventually benched by his coach, Skipper Lou "Skip-to-My-Lou" Clementine, but some continue to cling to the faith that the Walloper will eventually break the slump and lead the Rounders to the pennant. Through all of Banjie's triumphs and tribulations, he narrates with attention to detail and tons of cheesy but endearing puns. When those puns show up rapid fire like, "…the Haymakers hit home runs like fisherman catch fish—by the boatload" and "We craved (the pennant) like bears crave honey" only a few sentences from one another, there is a bit of simile overload. It may also take a gulpof Gatorade to swallow the rain cloud, names like Banjo, Flicker Pringle, and Tugboat Tooley, and the quick jumps in and out of the slump. As a whole though the quirky commentary and witty wordplay give the book a bouncy, baseball-noir feel (think Chet Gecko in Little League). While there is a hint of a potential romance between Banjie and his gal pal Gabby, this is definitely a boy book with all the ballgame play-by-play and lines like, "(Mr. Bones') farts ripped through the room like dynamite." Amidst the Lumberjacks cutting trees and Banjie's dog Mr. Bones cutting the cheese, Banjie aims to take his cut at baseball history in this fun, easy read. Reviewer: Paul Walter
School Library Journal

Gr 3-5

Soon-to-be-sixth-grader Banjo H. Bishbash plays third base for the Rambletown Rounders. He is also known as the "Walloper" because of his homerun-hitting streak. However, one day during an important game he strikes out and a "funny-looking thing" begins hanging over his head. "That rubbery black pillow of a thing" is Banjo's batter's slump. Goofy names and excessive hyperbole will have readers either smiling or groaning. Pen-and-ink illustrations help readers visualize the action and add to the humor. Repetitive phrasing such as "would have been nice..." becomes tedious, but the interesting descriptive similes coupled with some clever metaphors make for a lively, if uneven, read. Fans of Matt Christopher's sports stories, or readers who simply appreciate play-by-play action, might pick this up.-Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA

Kirkus Reviews
Eleven-year-old Banjo Hit Bishbash is known to his friends around town as Walloper (short for the "Great Walloper") for his batting prowess. But when a hitting slump arrives within sight of the end of a hard-fought season, it settles over his head as a visible, tangible black cloud. A determined 11-year-old sportswriter for the local paper seems to have unintentionally jinxed Walloper with her predictions of home-run success. At the same time, a seemingly endless summer heat wave has all but drained the energy from the Rambletown Rounders. While the resolution to Walloper's predicament is never in doubt, it is still nevertheless happily satisfying. Markey's deadpan delivery renders his tall-tale names and broad, punning prose quite comical, and the Walloper's triumphant out-of-the-park home run is the stuff of minor legend. (Fiction. 8-12)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"The comically deadpan reactions of Slump observers, the tautly drawn action scenes, and the snappy pacing of the short chapters are nicely pitched to readers just hitting their stride with full-length novels."
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“The comically deadpan reactions of Slump observers, the tautly drawn action scenes, and the snappy pacing of the short chapters are nicely pitched to readers just hitting their stride with full-length novels.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061152184
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/17/2009
  • Series: Super Sluggers Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 620L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 3.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Markey thinks "rain" and "out," when used together, are two of the saddest words in the English language. When speaking of weather, "snow" and "day" are much better! Other word combinations as compelling in their way as a bang-bang play on the bases include "greasy slider," "late-inning heroics," and "lasting friendships," concepts that all appear in this book . . . which he hopes will induce gales of laughter (another good one) in every reader.

Kevin is the author of Slumpbuster, Wall Ball, and Wing Ding, all in his Super Sluggers series of baseball adventures, and several books of nonfiction. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children and a lovable yellow-haired dog named Happy. He bats left, throws left, and types with both hands.

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Read an Excerpt

The Super Sluggers: Slumpbuster

Chapter One

"All set, Mr. Bones?" I asked.

Mr. Bones didn't say anything. He just ran over to the back door and wagged his tail. He wagged it so hard I thought he might take off into the air like a helicopter. Mr. Bones was my dog, a short-legged, long-nosed, yellow-haired fur ball that strangers often mistook for a bandicoot. He loved baseball. He came to all my games. My teammates thought he brought good luck. I thought they were right.

Mr. Bones wagged some more. All his wagging stirred up a tail wind that blew a newspaper right off the mail table. He was ready, all right.

And so was I.

I was ready to take on the Hog City Haymakers in the biggest game of the year. I played third base for the Rambletown Rounders. With a week left in the season, we were neck and neck in the standings with the Haymakers, the reigning champs of the 10–12 division. If we could beat our archrivals, we would be in a good position to win the pennant.

Winning would be tough. On top of being good, the Haymakers were big. Really big. Every kid on the team looked like a grown man. I swear some of those bad boys even had mustaches, which was very strange for a bunch of kids who'd be entering sixth grade in the fall. You just didn't see many sixth graders with full handlebar mustaches.

I picked up the newspaper Mr. Bones had wagged to the floor. It was folded open to the sports section. In the middle of the page was a picture of me hitting a home run for the Rounders. The picture was taken by Gabby Hedron. She was my friend and classmate at Rambletown Elementary. She covered baseball for theRambletown Bulletin. The caption under the picture said:

Walloper Set to Swing into Action Against Haymakers!

The Rambletown slugger has hit a home run in every game this season. If the pattern holds, he'll launch another one today and catapult the Rounders into first place.

Walloper was what my friends called me. It was short for the Great Walloper, on account of I liked to wallop the tar out of the ball. I got that nickname back in the Pee Wees, when I first started going deep.

My cheeks burned a little bit as I replaced the paper on the table. I made a point of turning it over, picture side down. It was one thing to hit a dinger now and then and another thing for the newspaper to trumpet it all over the universe. I didn't really like being the center of attention. I was just one player. The Rounders were a team. It took a team to win a division crown. Plus, it was just plain bad luck to talk about home runs before they happened. It sounded boastful. What on earth was Gabby thinking?!

I tugged on my blue cap with the red Rambletown R on the front, tucked my mitt under my arm, and pulled open the door.

Mr. Bones rocketed out of the house like he'd been blasted from a cannon.

"Hold on, boy!" I called from the porch. "We've got plenty of time."

Mr. Bones pulled up short and cocked his head over his shoulder, urging me to get the lead out. He couldn't wait to get to the ballpark. One thing about dogs was that they had no sense of time. When they were ready, they were ready.

I wheeled my bike onto the driveway and hung my mitt on the handlebar. My mom was yanking weeds in her flower garden. When she saw me, she pulled off her gardening gloves and came right over.

"You sure you don't want a ride?" she asked, wiping her forehead with the back of her hand. "It's gotten really hot all of a sudden. The tiger lilies are drooping. Only the weeds seem to be thriving."

I nodded. I always rode my bike to home games. Mr. Bones always trotted along behind. It was a good ritual. I didn't want to mess with it before our showdown with the Haymakers, heat or no heat.

"Good luck then, slugger," Mom said, planting a kiss on the crown of my Rounders cap. "I'll be in the bleachers at the start of the second inning."

That was another one of our rituals. My parents always arrived an inning late. It started a long time ago, when they happened to miss the first inning because my dad couldn't find the car keys. My dad was always misplacing the car keys. But that's another story. In any case, I ended up going four for four with four round-trippers that day. After that, my parents started coming late on purpose. From my position at third base, I often saw them dawdling in the parking lot, killing time until it was safe to grab seats in the bleachers.

"Thanks, Mom," I said.

I mounted my bike and headed for Rambletown Field, Mr. Bones bouncing eagerly at my rear wheel.

"Remember to drink plenty of water, Banjie," my mom called. She and my dad were about the only ones who used my real name. Or at least something like it. My actual name was Banjo.

Banjo H. Bishbash.

The H stood for Hit. It was my mother's last name before she married my dad. My parents gave it to me in part to honor her side of the family and in part because my dad loved baseball. "You can't go wrong with a middle name like Hit," he said.

The Banjo didn't stand for anything. It was just Banjo, plain and simple, like the musical instrument. The name came from my grandfather on my dad's side. Gramps got stuck with it first, and my dad got stuck with it after him. If I ever have a kid, I may just break the trend and call him something normal. "Mike" has a nice solid ring to it. According to family history, my grandfather was so long and skinny when he was born, with such a big head, that his folks took one look and called him Banjo. I guess it could've been worse. They could've called him Lollipop or Stop Sign.

In any case, it wasn't hard to see why I preferred Walloper.

The Super Sluggers: Slumpbuster. Copyright © by Kevin Markey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Home Run!

    A really funny story about an 11 year old baseball player named the Great Walloper. He got his name because he's always hitting home runs, but suddenly he can't hit anything. Against the nasty pitcher Flicker Pringle (his number 1 enemy) in a showdown of the two top teams, Walloper strikes out every time he bats. Worst of all, his slump becomes visible -- a big, black cloud that follows him wherever he goes. Crazy. Walloper's teammates try everything to help him, but nothing works. Nothing works either against a scorching heat wave that starts when Wallopers falls into his slump. The weather gets hotter and hotter and Walloper gets worse and worse. Just when it looks like Walloper and his teammates on the Rambletown Rounders are completely out of luck, he gets one last chance against Flicker Pringle in the final game of the season and... well, I don't want to ruin the suspense. My favorite things about this book are all the jokes, the great names of the players, and the exciting baseball action. If you like funny stories and sports, this book is for you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2009

    Okay, I guess

    Banjo Hit BishBash ¿Walloper¿ gets a baseball slump. He can¿t EVEN hit a single baseball. And at the worse time, too. His slump is getting bigger and darker each day. His teammates are counting on him to bring them to the 10-12 division baseball championship game. Will he succeed? <BR/><BR/>The Super Sluggers was an easy read, but wasn¿t very enjoyable. It was okay beginning but once I got to the middle it got quite boring. About every two chapters there was a baseball game going on, and I¿m not really that into baseball. That¿s my opinion though. <BR/><BR/>I did like the characters (especially the dad, I would like to try one of his big omelets). They were realistic, nice, and likeable people. <BR/><BR/>I would recommend this book to sport fans.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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