…Phil Bildner's bighearted new novel…thrums with moral clarity. Silas's journey instills lessons of tolerance, authenticity and genuine love and understanding…Ultimately,
A High Five for Glenn Burke turns on courage, summoned by Silas as well as by those in his orbit. As readers root for victories on the diamond, the off-field triumphs of compassion, integrity and forgiveness sweeten the delights of home runs and double plays. Bildner's novel is both a cleareyed assessment of historical progress and, one hopes, an accelerant to it.
The New York Times Book Review - Mike Peed
The story. . .speaks to the importance of creating a welcoming communitywhether on a baseball field or in a classroomthat embraces differences with not only tolerance but also complete and unrelenting support. An essential book for all readers, not just baseball fans, about friendship, acceptance, and self-confidence.”
Booklist, starred review “Beleaguered tolerance strikes out; loud, proud love wins the game.” Kirkus Reviews “[A] compassionate, well-written story.” School Library Journal “Silas is an engaging narrator, slipping easily and honestly between accounts of his public bravado, his understandable trepidation of worst-case scenario fallout, and his private adoption of a role model in Burke, who both represents Silas’ dilemma and cries out for vindication. Bildner’s closing acknowledgments disclose that Silas’ struggle was also his own, tacitly reassuring readers that, yep, things actually can get better.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books “In giving Burke a place to shine, this book is worthy of several high fives, forearm bashes, chest bumps, daps, and any other celebrations baseball players invent as the game continues to advance." OutSports.com “I highly recommend A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner, a terrific fictional story invoking the outfielder from the 1970s who wound up being a trailblazer.” Ken Davidoff, New York Post “I loved A High Five for Glenn Burke! What a terrific book about embracing who you are, and the internal and external struggles gay kids face coming out to their friends and familyeven loving ones. Great baseball action, too!” Alan Gratz, New York Times–bestselling author of Refugee “Silas is a realistic middle-grade heroa baseball-obsessed kid trying to find his place in the world. Readers will love him, just as I do.” Erin Entrada Kelly, Newbery Medal-winning author of Hello, Universe “A home run of a middle grade novela crackerjack story about the love and acceptance that everyone deserves.” Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak “Fires a fastball over the center of the plate and into the hearts of readers. As necessary as it is fun.” C. Alexander London, author of the Dog Tags series and the Skybound Saga
Gr 5–7—The author of the "Rip and Red" series tells the story of baseball-obsessed Silas, a 6th-grader whose journey to self-acceptance begins with a school presentation on Glenn Burke, the 1970s baseball player who invented the high-five, who was gay, and whose real-life story did not have a happy ending. Soon Silas is coming out to his best friend, Zoey, and to his favorite baseball coach. But things get complicated when a couple of his teammates use "gay" as an insult, and he finds himself lying about Zoey being his girlfriend. With Coach Webb's support, he learns to take responsibility for his actions and strive for authenticity as he sorts out the mess he has created with his lie. As the novel ends, Silas has not yet come out to his family, but readers can be sure that when he does, they will respond with love and support. VERDICT The baseball-heavy plot may deter readers who aren't interested in sports, so librarians may need to be prepared to hand-sell this compassionate, well-written story to ensure a wider audience.—Laurie Slagenwhite Walters, Brighton District Library, MI
A gay black baseball player posthumously inspires a sixth grade white boy who is ready-ish to come out.
Baseball enthusiast Silas Wade opens the book by giving a colorful class presentation about Glenn Burke. Burke was a once-well-known major league player who invented the high-five and eventually left the sport after enduring isolation and harassment for being gay. Silas leaves that last part out, but heralding his hero in front of a crowd is the silent start of his own coming out. Further testing the waters, he tells his best friend, Zoey (a champion robot builder), he's gay and finds that there's a bouncy kind of freedom that comes from saying who he really is. Inspirational YouTube videos encourage Silas to come out to Coach Webb, an adult who embodies the understanding, guidance, protection, and encouragement that all queer kids should have. But when Silas gets nervous about everything changing and wants to backpedal into the closet, circumstances put him at a crossroads: continue to lie for self-preservation or live out loud like Glenn Burke wasn't able to. Silas is white, but Zoey has a Spanish surname, and his baseball teammates and one coach are black and brown. (One notable moment includes an explanation from the coaches about why monkey insults are racist.) As the narrative foundation is established, there are overt explanations of settings and characters that aren't additive, but these superfluous tendencies dissolve about 50 pages in. Insights into Silas' home life feel bittersweet and real with parents fumbling to do the best they can, but Silas' struggle is the central story.
Beleaguered tolerance strikes out; loud, proud love wins the game.