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VOYAAfter moving from rural Pennsylvania to Hudson City, Jimmy tries out for the seventh grade baseball team as a southpaw pitcher. He is not a shoe-in, as the competition is tougher than it has been in the more rural setting of northeastern Pennsylvania. Jimmy ultimately makes the cut as a relief pitcher, but the team does poorly in the beginning of the season. As time wears on, he wins acceptance by his teammates and establishes friendships with his peers. Serving as a backdrop to the sports focus of the story is his parents' divorce, which precipitated his father's move with Jimmy to Hudson City. The Winning Season series is designed for middle school boys who are reluctant readers. Sentences are short, character development is rudimentary, and action is the name of the game. Wallace should be commended for endeavoring to keep boys of this age reading. His titles are quick reads, but his writing packs an emotional punch to which boys should be able to relate, especially concerning Jimmy's fear of failure on the ball field and also his worries about being accepted in a new group. The only flaw with this title is the somewhat stilted dialogue, especially when adults are interacting kids. Nevertheless it is recommended for public libraries that need good reads for younger middle school boys. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2006, Viking, 128p., Ages 11 to 14.
—Sean Michael Fleming