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From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-When Michael Arroyo is on the baseball diamond, everything feels right. He's a terrific pitcher who dreams of leading his South Bronx All-Stars to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. It's a dream he shared with his father, one they brought with them as they fled Cuba and wound up living in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Michael's ultimate dream is to play in the major leagues like his hero, El Grande, Yankee star and fellow Cuban refugee. Tragically, Papi died of a heart attack a few months back, leaving Michael and his older brother, Carlos, to struggle along on their own. Afraid of being separated, they hide the news of their father's death from everyone but a kindly neighbor, Mrs. Cora, and Michael's best friend, Manny Cabrera. When a bitter rival spreads rumors that Michael is older than he appears, the league demands that he be benched until he can produce a birth certificate. As he did in Travel Team (Philomel, 2004), Lupica crafts an involving, fast-paced novel peopled with strong, well-developed characters. Readers will find themselves rooting for Michael as he struggles with the loss of his father, stumbles into his first boy-girl relationship, and yearns to play baseball. The sports scenes are especially well written; fittingly, the euphoric finale takes place at Yankee Stadium. At times, the author veers toward melodrama but he keeps his lively plot on course with humor, crisp dialogue, and true-to-life characters. Lupica scores another hit with this warmhearted novel.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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Michael Arroyo is growing up in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. He is the star pitcher of his Little League team, dreaming of pitching them to the Little League World Series. Everything is on track for his dream to come true; then he is benched until the birth certificate that didn't make it out of Cuba with the family can be produced to prove he is only 12 and eligible to play. Paolo Andino tells the story with an enthusiasm sure to draw in young baseball fans. He creates an excitement that has the listener rooting for Michael. His Hispanic accent is true to the characters as he brings each of them to life. N.E.M. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
*Starred Review* Gr. 6--9. Michael Arroyo is a 13-year-old Cuban American who lives in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Yes, he is a Little League ballplayer, and, yes, he has a dream: to pitch in the Little League World Series. To do so, his South Bronx All-Stars will need to beat the best the greater New York area has to offer in the regional championship, to be played in--you guessed it--Yankee Stadium. This setup sounds like yet another Rocky meets Bad News Bears tearjerker: the immigrants from the Bronx take on the white-bread rich kids from the suburbs. It is that (with some notable twists), but it's much more, too. Michael and his brother, 17-year-old Carlos, have a problem: their beloved father is dead, and the boys are hoping to avoid a foster home by pretending Papi is visiting a sick relative in Miami. Lupica wrings plenty of genuine emotion from the melodramatic frame story, but he sidesteps the slough of social significance by building characters who speak for themselves, not the author, and by enlivening the story with a teen version of street humor. The dialogue crackles, and the rich cast of supporting characters--especially Michael's battery mate, catcher and raconteur Manny--nearly steals the show. Top-notch entertainment in the Carl Hiaasen mold. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Booklist, starred review
Michael Arroyo has a pitching arm that throws serious heat. But his firepower is nothing compared to the heat Michael faces in his day-to-day life. Newly orphaned after his father led the familys escape from Cuba, Michaels only family is his seventeen-yearold brother Carlos. If Social Services hears of their situation, they will be separated in the foster-care systemor worse, sent back to Cuba. Together, the boys carry on alone, dodging bills and anyone who asks too many questions. But then someone wonders how a twelve-year-old boy could possibly throw with as much power as Michael Arroyo throws. With no way to prove his age, no birth certificate, and no parent to fight for his cause, Michaels secret world is blown wide open, and he discovers that family can come from the most unexpected sources.
About the Author
Mike Lupica is the author of many novels for sports fans, including Red Zone, Bump and Run, and Wild Pitch. His columns for the New York Daily News are syndicated nationally, and he is a regular on ESPNs The Sports Reporters. Partial to the little guys, Mr. Lupica enjoys coaching youth basketball. He lives in New Canaan, Connecticut, with his wife and their four children.
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