Fast Pitch

Crown. Aug. 2021. 192p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984893017.
Gr 5-8–A sports mystery that will keep readers engaged from start to finish. “Base-related ball” runs in Shenice’s blood. Her dad played, and his dad played, and now Shenice is the captain of the Fulton Firebirds, the first and only all-Black softball team in the Dixie Youth Softball Association. More than anything, she wants to prove that Black girls do belong on the field. The day after a tough loss, Shenice’s father decides it’s time to introduce her to her Great-Grampy JonJon’s infamous trunk. The trunk holds all kinds of baseball treasures, but her father gives her JonJon’s mitt and closes the trunk. Shenice is curious about other items she saw but doesn’t know how to learn more about them until she discovers her Great-Grampy’s brother, Uncle Jack, is still alive. When they meet, Uncle Jack tells Shenice the reason JonJon stopped playing ball: he was framed for stealing the glove of Joe DiMaggio from a charity auction. Her parents told her Uncle Jack isn’t always lucid. Is the story true? Can Shenice clear JonJon’s name? Discussions about race and civil rights are seamlessly woven into the narrative through Shenice’s own experiences, her schoolwork, and conversations with her language arts teacher. The climax feels unnecessarily prolonged, but this may keep younger readers on the edge of their seats. Softball terminology isn’t always explained, so it would benefit readers to have some background knowledge of the sport.
VERDICT Purchase this title where Stone’s work, sports stories, and light mysteries are popular.

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