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BASEBALL GENIUS KIRKUS REVIEW

BASEBALL GENIUS
Author: Tim Green
Author: Derek Jeter
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Category: Fiction

Hooking up with a renowned shortstop-turned-publisher, Green shows that the premise of his Football Genius (2007) plays just as well in another sport. It’s not a straight remake, but Green does recycle select plot elements and character types along with said premise. Hot to play for the local 13-and-under Rockets despite its starting pitcher, who is both a bully and the favored son of the team’s brutal coach, Jalen steals a bag of autographed baseballs from aging Yankees’ superstar James Yager to peddle for the requisite $990. Caught, he escapes punishment by claiming so insistently that he can predict pitches that the skeptical but slumping Yager brings him to Yankee Stadium for a tryout. Jalen does have a gift, though it turns out to be a fitful one. Green’s biracial protagonist (white and black) leads a cast that includes a struggling single dad who speaks in a cheesy Italian accent (“I take-a you shoes off….You close-a the eyes”), a standard-issue spunky-girl pal, and an admixture of actual sports personalities and athletes—including the likewise biracial Jeter, who claims his shared title-page credit by offering encouraging platitudes in a gratuitous cameo. The tale offers plenty of sports action as it scrambles from base to base past sudden obstacles and personal challenges. A bunt at best, but Green’s a good enough storyteller to keep readers in the game. (Fiction. 10-13)

Fiona Simpson
Editorial Director, Aladdin
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
212-698-2848

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