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Last updated Thursday, November 8, 2012

Author: Michael Northup
Date of Publication: 2012
ISBN: 0545297141
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2012

Synopsis: Sixth grader Jack Mogens has it all figured out: He's got his batting routine down, and his outfielding earns him a starting spot alongside his best friend Andy on their Little League team, the Tall Pines Braves. He even manages to have a not-totally-embarrassing conversation with Katie, the team's killer shortstop. But in the first game of the season, a powerful stray pitch brings everything Jack's worked so hard for crashing down around his ears. How can he explain to his parents and friends why he WON'T be playing? Readers will root for Jack as he finds the courage to step back up to the plate.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Besides a baseball, what is on the cover?
•  Have you ever had to try out for a team? For what sport? How often do you practice?
•  Do your parents come to your games?
•  Are you going to play sports for your middle school? For your high school? For college?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Why did Katie make Jack so nervous?
•  Why did Geoff watch Jack so closely at the batting cages?
•  Is it good to be competitive with your teammates? Why or why not?
•  Do you think Jack has a good chance of being a starter?
•  Jack has his own unique batting routine. Do you have a routine before playing your sport?

•  Pathetic- causing or evoking pity, sympathetic sadness, or sorrow
•  Lawsuit- a case in the court of law involving a complaint by one party against another
•  Bulge- a rounded projection, bend, or protruding part
•  Affirmative- a positive statement expressing agreement
•  Craven- a coward
•  Lob- to throw something in a slow, high arc
•  Frenzy- extreme mental activity or wild excitement
•  Aspire- to want, aim or seek for ambitiously ( especially for something of high value).

Craft ideas:
•  Do a word search!
•  Create a comic strip inspired by the book using construction paper.

Special activities:
•  Make up your own unique batting routine & act it out for each other!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!