Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Batter Up with the newest Ballpark Mysteries Super Special: The World Series Kids

The World Series Kids (Ballpark Mysteries Super Special #4), by David A. Kelly/Illustrated by Mark Meyers, ($5.99, Random House), ISBN: 9780525578956

Ages 7-10

The Ballpark Mysteries is a fun mystery series for intermediate readers that fits right in with Ron Roy’s mystery series (Capital Mysteries; Calendar Mysteries; A to Z Mysteries). The hook here is baseball; each mystery takes place at a ballpark and stars Mike and Kate, cousins who love baseball and solving mysteries. The World Series Kids is the latest Super Special – a little longer in length and structured around a big happening in baseball; in this case, the Little League World Series. Mike and Kate’s friend, Colin, is on the Cooperstown team, and Kate and Mike travel to South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to support the hometown team. They quickly discover that someone’s trying to sabotage the team: the coach’s son saw someone slash one of the team bus’s tires; the team’s equipment goes missing right before their first game, and there’s a warning that more shenanigans are coming! Thank goodness Mike and Kate are on the case to help out, but can they find out who’s behind the incidents in time to keep the team in the game?

This is such a fun whodunit! Mike and Kate work together well as a team, and David A. Kelly’s writing has action, humor, and a wealth of baseball knowledge. He creates whodunits that will leave kids (and adults, to be honest) guessing until the end of the story, with a surprise reveal, a lesson to be learned, and a happy ending, leaving kids ready to read the next book… right after they play a few innings. Dugout Notes at the end of the book are all about the Little League World Series, with cool facts to read and share.

There are loads of great resources on David A. Kelly’s author site, including educator guides, fan art and videos, even missing chapters. The Ballpark Mysteries are popular reading at my library, among baseball fans and mystery readers alike. David A. Kelly’s MVP series is also a big hit here, because I have a lot of soccer fans in this community. (A LOT.)  Display and booktalk this series with Matt Christopher’s sports fiction, and Dan Gutman’s Baseball Card Adventures series.

Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, Realistic Fiction

Ballpark Mysteries goes to Cooperstown!

Ballpark Mysteries: Christmas in Cooperstown (Super Special #2), by David A. Kelly/Illustrated by Mark Meyers, (Sept. 2017, Random House), $5.99, ISBN: 978-0-399-55192-5

Recommended for readers 6-9

Confession time: While I steer a lot of my readers toward the Ballpark Mysteries books, I hadn’t read one until Christmas in Cooperstown. I’m really glad I did read it, though; despite not being much of a sports fan, I do enjoy a fun mystery, and Christmas in Cooperstown was just what I needed.

Best friends Mike and Kate are volunteering to wrap presents for a charity, Cooperstown Cares, at the Baseball Hall of Fame. As a thank you, they and their friends are invited to a sleepover at the Hall of Fame, which is pretty fantastic. It’s a good thing, too – Mike notices that the Honus Wagner card – a rare baseball card that can go for millions of dollars at auction – has been stolen and replaced with a fake! He and Kate have to track down the clues, find the card and the culprit, and deliver the charity’s gifts on time. Pretty big order!

Sports fans will really enjoy the tidbits of sports history here. I was interested in the science behind discovering the fake card, and using his dad’s business as a baseball card dealer opens the door to some fun trivia and facts throughout the book. “Dugout Notes”, a regular feature in the Mysteries, on Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame finish up the book, along with a recipe for All-Star Blue Chip Muffins, which have a little cameo in the story.

Readers can pick up Christmas at Cooperstown without having read other Ballpark Mysteries; there’s enough exposition that you can easily get into the groove of things. Black and white illustrations by Mark Meyers keep things interesting and moving along.

I got to meet David Kelly at KidLitCon this past weekend and he is the nicest guy! It’s always a bonus when you find out that an author is pretty darn cool on top of being a good writer. He was kind enough to pass on a set of his MVP series for my library kids, too!

MVP – Most Valuable Players – is another sports mystery series for intermediate readers; like Ballpark Mysteries, you can dive into each one separately, with no stress. In the first story, The Gold Medal Mess, we meet the MVPs on the opening spread, where we get their “stats” via an illustration and quick character description: Max is a great athlete and detective; Alice is an archery ace and animal lover; Nico can’t wait to practice and play; Luke loves to exercise his funny bone, and Kat, Luke’s twin sister, captures the best game-day moments on camera. The kids are getting ready for their annual school Olympics, but someone is leaving threatening letters, telling the school to cancel the Olympics or else. When things start going wrong on the big day, it’s up to the five friends to figure out who’s causing the trouble and save the day before someone gets hurt.

Each MVP book covers a different sport and features black and white illustration. The cast is a diverse, all-star group of kids with different interests and talents, and who work together to solve mysteries, help others, and take on bullies. Each book includes bonus facts on each featured sports: The Gold Medal Mess has Olympics facts and photos; other books have terms and diagrams. I’m putting these up on the “NEW” shelf tomorrow, and I expect they’ll be gone just as quickly as I get them up there. A good add to sports fiction and mystery collections!