by Joan Bauer

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Related Activities & Resources:

Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Joan Bauer’s website:

Joan Bauer’s biography:

Joan Bauer’s biography:

Joan Bauer’s blog:

Transcript of interview with Adolescent Literacy:

Author interview with Novel Rocket:

Author interview with Teen Ink:

Author interview with MackinVIA Community:

Activities & Resources:

Using Joan Bauer Books in a 4-8 Classroom:


Be creative!

The importance of teamwork is a key theme in SOAR.  Using the web page, “15 quotes to inspire great teamwork,” create posters illustrating each statement. Display in the classroom/, or publish on a class website/Google Drive:

Conduct an oral history interview with an adult who has been actively involved in baseball.  Share the interview with the class or create a podcast based on the taped material.  Use the following links to find resources to help with the interview and with creating a podcast:

Identify an issue in the book that could be debated.  Topics could include the use of steroids in youth athletes, pressure to win in youth sports, risks of organ transplants.

Research pros and cons of the topics, and then use the information gathered to write a position defending or disagreeing with the issue.  Conduct a debate in the classroom or library. Explore the following website for ideas to help with preparation and presentation:

Using issues and events from the book, create a newspaper as a class or in small groups. In addition to news articles, the newspaper could also include an advice column, weather report, editorial cartoon, editorials, recipes, comics, and interviews.  Display the newspaper(s) in the classroom/library, or share the document electronically.

Jeremiah won the MVP Award at the end of Soar, but many of the other characters in the book deserve awards, too.  Choose at least ten characters in the book who you think deserve an award.  Create a profile for each of your awards, including the name, criteria for selection, and the design of the actual award.  For each recipient, write a short presentation for why the character won a particular award.  Plan a way to showcase the awards and their recipients, so other readers can enjoy your creativity.

Select a dramatic scene in the book and write a readers theater for this scene.  Recruit some students to practice and perform the readers theater.  Consider sharing the readers theater with other students in your school.

Explore and Learn

If accessible through your library, check the TexQuest digital resources for articles on baseball, heart transplants, steroids, and robotics. These resources include Britannica Online School Edition, National Geographic Kids (Gale), Kids InfoBits (Gale), ¡Informe! (Gale), ProQuest SIRS Discoverer and  See the campus librarian for login information for TexQuest resources.

Use the sites below to gather information for student/class projects or just to find out more about these topics in the book.

Baseball – Little League/High School/Major/Minor Leagues

Little League Baseball:

National Federation of State High School Associations (baseball):

Database of articles on high school baseball:

UIL High School Baseball Overview:

Texas High School Baseball website:

Official MLB website:

Official Houston Astros website:

Official Texas Rangers website:

Official Texas League website (minor league baseball):

Baseball – playing the game

Basic baseball rules:

Basic baseball rules (more detailed):

UIL High School Rules and Guidelines:

Nine Innings of Brain Safety in Baseball (high school):

Nueve Entradas de Seguridad Para el Cerebro en Béisbol (high school):

The Basics of Baseball: Every Kid Can Play Baseball (series of “how to” videos):

Youth Baseball: Little League Baseball  Batting Tips (3:23):

Baseball – general videos

Baseball Overview (6:57)

Welcome to Little League Videos:

Negro League History (6:22)

Primary vs, Secondary Sources: On the Baseball Field (3:42)

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (collection of videos)

Baseball — songs

This is Baseball (fun song) (2:67)

Take Me Out to the Ballgame (2:07)

“The Greatest” (Kenny Rogers) (3:05)

Baseball – trivia and quizzes

Baseball Trivia and Quizzes:

Baseball Trivia Questions:

Major League Baseball Trivia Quiz for Kids:

Who’s That Baseball Star?:


10 important baseball rules for beginners:

Best high school baseball coaching tips to compete every year:

What it takes to be a good coach:

Communication is key to building a successful program:


Teaching teamwork skills in youth sports:

Success through teamwork:

Five tips to be a good team player:

8 ways to become a better teammate:


Kids on steroids willing to risk it all for success:

Steroids (Kids Health):

PED use by high school athletes on the rise:


Robotics for kids on Pinterest:

How Building Robots Captivates Kids’ Imaginations (Edutopia) (7:25)

How To Make Simple DIY Robot for Kids (Mr. Red Robot Do-it-yourself)

FIRST LEGO League Challenge and Series information (include student participant videos)

Heart Transplantation (children)

How the heart works (video – Kids Health) (6:15)

Also contains links to a follow-up article, quiz, activity, and word search.

When your child needs a heart transplant (Kids Health)

Explaining donation and transplantation to children:

Organ transplants: what every kid needs to know (United Network of Organ Sharing):

MakerSpace Activities:

The Eagles need a logo!  Using art materials or an computer graphic tool, design a logo for this middle school baseball team. If a sewing machine is available, create a flag with the new logo to display in the classroom/library.

Use a coding program like Scratch to create an interactive game, story, or animation based on characters, events, or issues in the book.

Using one of the numerous resources like littleBits, Sphero, Lego Mindstorms, design a robot as an individual or small group project. If you have a 3-D printer and materials available, follow the directions from the “Make-It At Your Library” website to create a robot:

Create a book trailer for Soar, using a resource like Animoto or iMovie. Share with classmates to encourage students to read the book.

Identify key scenes in the book to re-enact. Write a script for each scene, and locate actors, costumes, music, and props for the production.  Video the scenes and share with the class or post to the classroom website or Google Drive. If available, use a green screen to create backgrounds for the scenes.

Look at the “Healthy snack ideas for school sports” article (link below). Plan a healthy snack schedule for your sports team, using ideas from the article.  Choose 2 or 3 snacks to make and share, if ingredients are available for this project. Have your friends rate the snacks for nutrition and taste.

Using found objects, create a sculpture to honor the game of baseball.  Give your sculpture a name and write a description of your work of art.  Display the sculpture in the library as a part of a sports/baseball book display.

Discussion Questions:

Big Picture Questions:

Look at the cover of the book.  What do the images suggest that this book is going to be about?  What does the question, “Is winning all that matters?” add to the cover design?

The title of the book is Soar. Identify and describe the issues in the book that are associated with this verb. Do you think this is a good title for the book? If not, what title would you suggest? Share why you think your title is more descriptive of the book’s themes.

Jeremiah is the first person narrator for the story.  Why do you think the author chose to write the book in the first person? Would having a third person narrator change the book in any way? Give examples to support your opinion.

As Jeremiah and his father enter the town of Hillcrest for the first time, they read the sign that stands at the city limits: To those who say it’s only a game, we say it’s more. To those who say it isn’t if you win or lose, we say it matters. We are winners. Every day. Every year. Pushing to be the best. Welcome to Hillcrest, Ohio.  Describes how  the meaning of this sign changes as the book’s plot develops. By the end of the book, what do you think would be a more accurate sign to place at the entrance to the town?  Why did you choose those words?

In Chapter 5, Jeremiah states (after doing a robot dance up the path to his new house),

“It takes time to get used to me.”  Share times in the book when both adult and child characters learn to look past first impressions to see the person and leader that Jeremiah really is.

Jeremiah often daydreams about playing baseball.  These passages are written in italics, and Jeremiah refers to himself as “Lopper.” Why is daydreaming beneficial for Jeremiah?

Jeremiah is a magnet for people who need to talk.  Franny, El Grande, Donald, and Benchant all choose Jeremiah as the person in whom they want to confide.  What qualities in Jeremiah make him a good listener? How is this character an equally good responder?

Towards the end of the book, a Hillcrest newspaper editorial said that “we don’t need anger as much as we need courage.” Describe the characters in Soar who you consider to be courageous. Do these character share anything in common?

Can one person make a difference in a community? Select a character from the book and explain how that character affected the community.  Include examples from the book as you describe the power of the individual on a group.

Who is your favorite character in the book? Write a description of this character, including the reason for your selection.

Describe how the heart, a recurring image throughout the book, becomes a symbol in the story.  Include examples from the book as you explain what the heart represents in Soar.

In Chapter 41, Jeremiah and Dr. Dugan are watching the eagle cam, as the baby eaglets learn how fly. Jeremiah tells Sarah, “They don’t know they are eagles yet. They have to learn what they can do.” Identify three characters and/or events in the book and tell how these two sentences (“They don’t know they are eagles yet. They have to learn what they can do.”) are connected to the characters/events you have selected.

The front and back end pages of the book are bright green. Why do you think the publishers chose this color to begin and end the reader’s experience with the book?

Chapter Specific Questions:

In Chapter 1, Jeremiah opens the book with a guess about his age and birth location.  Does Jeremiah seem bothered that he doesn’t know his exact age or place of birth? Would not knowing your specific birth date and location trouble you? Why?

What does the note next to little Jeremiah – pleez tek car of him Bcaz he my best boy I no yur good! – tell you about the person who left the toddler in the coffee room?

In Chapter 1, what characteristics does the reader discover about Walt that made him a good candidate to adopt Jeremiah? What were the challenges that Walt might face as a new father? From his account of his discovery and first year with Walt, how do you think the boy feels about his adoptive father? Support your answer with examples from the first chapter.

Why do you think Jeremiah named his stuffed eagle Baby?

At the end of chapter 1, Jeremiah says that people who have an eagle inside them had “better pay attention and deal with it, because if you don’t, you’ll have one intensely frustrating life.” What does Jeremiah mean when he talks about having an eagle inside him? Why would life be frustrating if people ignore the eagle inside them? Share some possible consequences of not dealing with it.

From Chapter 2, list some of the effects that Walt’s job as an independent consultant has on his family. Does Jeremiah seem to mind following his father’s jobs? Would you rather move often or stay in the same town? Share your reasons for your preference.

Jeremiah states that he has cardiomyopathy, but doesn’t explain immediately what this condition is or how it affects him. Why do you think the author decided to gradually reveal details about Jeremiah’s condition instead of giving specific information earlier in the chapter?

Jeremiah tries to convince his father that he wants to go to Ohio with him for the new job. Do you think that Jeremiah is a persuasive speaker? Give examples of the points he introduced to support his argument.  Give examples that indicate the kind of listener Walt was during the discussion. From this conversation, what hints does the reader get about the father/son relationship in this book?

What information in Chapter 2 supports the fact that baseball is one of Jeremiah’s passions?

What is the significance of the image and text on the t-shirt that Jeremiah gave Walt for Father’s Day?

Explain the humor in this Chapter 3 sentence, “Being a computer genius, Walt knew about viruses.”

What do you think made the difference in the heart team’s decision to allow Jeremiah to go with Walt to Ohio, even though the move has implications for his health?

As Walter and Jeremiah are leaving the hospital, they stop at the wall of photos of children who have had heart transplants, including three photos of Jeremiah.  Describe how you would feel if you were looking at your photo in the OUR KIDS display.

In Chapter 4 the reader meets Yaff, Jeremiah’s best friend.  What are some reasons that Yaff and Walt are best friends?  What characteristics do they share in common?

Jeremiah states that Jerwal was a good friend when Jeremiah was in the hospital.  How can a robot be a good friend?

When the father eagle sweeps down to feed the eaglets on the webcam feed, Jeremiah types, “This is what father eagles do, people.” Why is this a significant statement for Jeremiah to make??”

Explain what Jeremiah means in his statement, “I will never give up because I have too many cool things to do to waste time being negative.” How would you complete the sentence, “I will never give up because…?” Explain why you chose these words to describe you.

Jeremiah discovers that the motto for Hillcrest is “Life is a game. Baseball is serious.” What clues does this motto give the reader about Jeremiah’s new town?

In Chapter 5, Jeremiah reports that when he wanted to know the name of the girl whose heart he received so that he could thank her parents, his doctor refused to share that information.  Why do you think the doctor made that decision?

Jeremiah likes to name things – his new heart, his stuffed animal, his cardiac defibrillator. Why do you think giving names to inanimate objects is important to him?

When Walt and Jeremiah find the door to their new home locked, Jeremiah takes the initiative to break into the house with a paper clip.  What does this behavior tell you about Jeremiah as a person?  Describe a time that you solved a problem before an adult had the chance to do so.

When Jeremiah successfully breaks into the house, Walt says, “I’m glad you use your gifts for good.” Was he upset with Jeremiah for breaking into the house?  What did Walt mean by this statement?

Franny is very evasive when talking to Jeremiah about the middle school baseball team. What clues does the author share to establish a sense of unease about the state of baseball in the middle school?

The end of Chapter 6 contains a number of incidents describing the star Hornet player, Hargie Cantwell, on and off the baseball field.  What are some of Hargie’s personal characteristics? Do any of these character traits make him a good teammate?

Walking into the cafeteria for the first time can be hard on any middle school student. How does Jeremiah handle his first lunch period? How do the students respond to Jeremiah? What would be your strategy on surviving lunch period, if you were a new sixth grade student?

Jeremiah finally gets to meet Franny’s grandfather, also known as El Grande. What do we learn about this character in this first encounter with Jeremiah? What character traits to you think he possesses?

In study hall, Jeremiah researches Coach Perkins and finds a number of his “big coach sayings” online.  Choose one of the sayings and put the meaning into your own words. Would this be a saying that you would like to live by? Why or why not – defend your answer.

Benny, the young boy that Franny watches after school every day, is introduced as a character in this chapter. Jeremiah wonders to himself, “What’s your story, Benny?”  How would you describe this 8 year-old?

In Chapter 10, on the way to meet Jeremiah’s new cardiologist, Walt reveals the reason for all of the mysterious comments about the “somewhat” middle school baseball team.

Why did the middle school parents turn against a sport that is so important to the entire town? Jeremiah protests, “It’s not baseball’s fault.” Agree or disagree? Support your opinion with reasons 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Jeremiah calls the insurance company about coverage for his new heart monitor.  Is it typical for a sixth grader to deal with insurance companies?  What does this scene tell you about Jeremiah? About Walt?

In Chapter 11, Jeremiah compares hearing the news about Hargie Cantwell’s death to a truck falling from the sky.  What does this image indicate about the significance of this event?

In Chapter 12, the reader learns that Hargie died of a heart attack, and Jeremiah says, “I know that hearts can fool you.” What does Jeremiah mean?

Why do you think Coach Perkins doesn’t attend his star player’s funeral?

What special skill does Benny have that impresses Jeremiah?

In Chapter 13,  Jeremiah says, “The eagle cam helps you remember all the great people in your life who’ve been there for you.” How does the live footage of the eagle nest bring up these memories?

When his friends say that baseball is dying in Hillcrest, Jeremiah replies with a saying from a coach, “Sometimes when you think you’re finished, you’re just beginning.” Explain what the coach means in this statement.  Share a time in your life when  what you thought was the end of something was really the beginning.

Dr Dugan writes a prescription that Jeremiah be allowed to carry his baseball with him during his school day.  What does this prescription tell the reader about Jeremiah’s doctor?

In Jeremiah’s Civilization (world history) class, the students debate the topic, “Are cheating, lying, and breaking laws to win acceptable in America?”  What was the vote at the end of the debate? Where would you have voted on this issue? Support your opinion with the reasons for your vote.

At the beginning of Chapter 17, Jeremiah meets with the team to share his honest observations about their playing.  How does Jeremiah respond when the largest player challenges his knowledge? How does this response affect the team?

At the end of Chapter 17, Walt and Jeremiah have a short game of catch.  Why is this an important event in the life of this little family?

In Chapter 20, Mr. Aronson introduces the idea of the “tragic flaw” to his Civilization class.  Why do you think that the teacher gives the students an opportunity to explore the idea of Greek heroes and gods possessing a character flaw that causes their downfall?

Even though they lose their first game, the team appears to be excited, not upset. What does this say about the players and their coach?

In Chapter 21, how does the town react to the news that members of the Hornets tested positive for steroid use?

Why do you think that Mr. Aronson chose Jeremiah to play Aristotle in “Think About It Day” at school?

Ms. Rooney, mother of one of the star high school players, confronts the people of Hillcrest about the steroid rumors and says, “If we ever needed truth in this town, we need it now.”  For this statement to the crowd, Jeremiah says, “Mac Rooney’s mother gives motherhood a gold star.”  What does Jeremiah’s statement reveal about Ms. Rooney? About Jeremiah’s opinion of the steroid crisis?

El Grande makes a special trip across the street to talk with Jeremiah about coaching and says, “You’ve got a team to build and a job to do. It doesn’t matter what the other people say.” Do you believe this last statement? If you were Jeremiah, how would you handle the negative remarks in the community?

In Chapter 23, when the middle school team begins to fall apart because of all of their losses, Jeremiah tells them, “Winning is deciding you’re not going to quit.” Do his words make a difference? Give examples to back up your answer.

Franny declares that Benny has a “special way of looking at the world.” How would you describe this special way? How does his presence affect the team?

In Chapter 24, what does Jeremiah mean when he says that his father “rises up to his full wingspan” as Walt confront the booing crowd? Why is this a good image for this book?

In Chapter 27, why are parents trying to take their kids off the middle school baseball team? Has playing on the team been harmful to the students? How will preventing them from playing protect the students?

Were you surprised when Walt announces that he is having dinner with Dr. Dugan in Chapter 28? What clues prepared you for this announcement?

Why do you think Jeremiah wrote a Mother’s Day note to the mother he will never know and who will never see his letter?

In Chapter 30, the author writes about Coach Perkins’ steroid hearing like a transcript. How does this format affect the reading of this passage?

Even though Bo is in high school, he asks Jeremiah to talk with him while he takes some letters to Hargie’s parents.  Why would a much older student want to confide in a sixth grader?

When Jeremiah finds out that El Grande is going to coach the baseball team, he smiles “so big it hurts.” Why does Jeremiah choose to smile, even though he is upset that he will no longer be the coach?

In Chapter 31, El Grande calls Jeremiah “a valuable asset,” when the older man asked the student to be a full-time assistant? What is an asset, and how does Jeremiah fit that definition?

Why does El Grande like the eagle as the new mascot for the team? Why is this a better mascot for the baseball team than the muskrat?

In Chapter 32, the reader learns that Benny has a very special ability.  What is this gift, and why is it especially important in the world of baseball?

At the beginning of Chapter 33, Jeremiah tells Franny about his mother leaving him in the snack room. Why did he choose to tell her this very private story? In return, what does Franny decide to do? How does this affect their friendship?

What are some examples in Chapter 35 that illustrate the enthusiasm the community is beginning to have for the middle school baseball team?  Why are people beginning to support this team in a town that has come to fear baseball?

Jeremiah confronts Chip Gunther, the owner of the local sports store, when Mr. Gunther makes fun of the Eagles. Was Jeremiah right to correct an adult in public? Defend your opinion.

In Chapter 38, Jeremiah discovers that the team finally won a game.  How does he learn of this victory? Why didn’t his father tell his son this news to make him feel better while he was in the hospital?

Benchant has never like Jeremiah very much, but he seeks him out to tell him that he is quitting the team to play football in the fall.  How does Jeremiah respond to this bad news? Does his response make a difference? What might you have said if you had been in Jeremiah’s place?

When Frannie is watching the eagle cam with Jeremiah, she says, “I’m not sure I want to be associated with a bird who doesn’t care about its babies!”  What other meaning can you attribute to Frannie’s statement?

In Chapter 39, the Hornets show up at the Eagles’ practice to play ball with them.  High school playing with middle school – why do you think the Hornets made this decision? What is the Eagles’ reaction to this offer from the high school team?

About this Hornets/Eagles practice session, Jeremiah says, “…it’s too bad the town isn’t out there to see us play. Because they’d see what this game can be and how people need it.”  Explain what Jeremiah means in this sentence.  How are the Hornets different in this practice session from the way they usually behave?

At the beginning of Chapter 40, how does changing the pronunciation of Donald’s last name from Mole (English) to Molé (Mo-lay/Spanish) make a difference in Donald’s attitude? Why would a simply change in pronunciation be significant?

Chapter 41 – the Big Game. Jeremiah finally gets to give the coach speech he’s been practicing for weeks.  What is the effect of this speech? Looking at the text, what do you think is the sentence or phrase that is the most powerful motivator? Explain your reason for selecting this section of the speech.

Why does El Grande decide to follow Benny’s suggestion to substitute Donald, the team’s weakest player, at a critical point in the game?

Was Jeremiah’s decision to make Franny mad at him as she stepped up to the plate for her turn at bat worth the fury she felt towards her friend? Describe a time that you “took one for the team,” in sports, school, the family, or with friends.  What was the outcome of your decision?

After their big victory, why do the Eagles play catch with Benny who has no idea how to throw or catch the baseball? What does this game of catch say about the Eagles? About Benny?

In Chapter 42, Walt is behaving much more domestically as his wedding to Sarah Dugan approaches. Jeremiah tells him, “Don’t change too much.” What change do you think Jeremiah is referring to? Defend your answer.

Jeremiah tells the reader, “Tonight I bring out Baby and tell the story.” What story is Jeremiah referring to? What is Sarah’s reaction to Jeremiah’s tale?

What new piece of information does Sarah reveal about her own childhood? How does this news connect to Jeremiah’s situation? Do you think it will make a difference in their relationship?

Agree or disagree – in Chapter 43,  Jeremiah deserved the Most Valuable Player Award, even though he never played on the team.  Support your position with examples from the book.

Jeremiah believes that baseball will heal his heart.  How is it possible for a sport to make a heart healthy again?

Book Talk Teasers:

Watch the book trailer for SOAR, found on the Texas Bluebonnet Award YouTube channel or under “Master List Resources” on the Texas Bluebonnet Award website. What do you think will happen to Jeremiah in the story?  (YouTube channel link)  (Texas Bluebonnet Award website link)

Present the Readers Theater. Predict what will happen in the rest of the story.  Read the book to see if the prediction is correct.

Have you ever cared deeply about something that someone wanted to take away from you? Share this experience either with the class, a small group, or in a letter to yourself.  Read the book to see how Jeremiah responds when things that he loves are endangered in the story.

Read Alikes:

Sports fiction and baseball

Butcher, Kristin. Cairo Kelly and the Mann. Baseball teammates Midge and Kelly look forward to the season playoffs, while their umpire friend, Hal Mann, is in danger of losing his job–and is keeping a secret from the boys. (NoveList)

Gutman, Dan. Jackie and me: a baseball card adventure. With his ability to travel through time by using baseball cards, Joe goes back to 1947 to meet Jackie Robinson; but he can’t predict that his journey will not only change the color of his skin for a time, but it will alter his view of history–and his definition of courage. (NoveList)

Gutman, Dan. Robert & me: a baseball card adventure. Stosh travels back to 1969 to try to prevent the untimely death of Roberto Clemente, a legendary baseball player and humanitarian, but upon his return to the present, he meets his own great-grandson who takes him into the future, and what he finds there is more shocking than anything he has encountered in his travels to the past. (NoveList)

Gutman, Dan. Shoeless Joe & me. Joe Stoshack travels back to 1919, where he meets Shoeless Joe Jackson and tries to prevent the fixing of the World Series in which Jackson was wrongly implicated. (NoveList)

Kelly, David A. The Fenway foul-up. Cousins Mike and Kate are at Boston’s Fenway Park when the Red Sox’s star hitter discovers that his lucky baseball bat has been stolen. (NoveList)

Lupica, Mike. The big field. When fourteen-year-old baseball player Hutch feels threatened by the arrival of a new teammate named Darryl, he tries to work through his insecurities about both Darryl and his remote and silent father, who was once a great ballplayer, too. (NoveList)

Lupica, Mike. Heat. Pitching prodigy Michael Arroyo is on the run from social services after being banned from playing Little League baseball because rival coaches doubt he is only twelve years old and he has no parents to offer them proof. (NoveList)

Realistic fiction and baseball

Bishop, Jenn. The distance to home. Baseball player and superfan Quinnen must struggle to deal with her older sister’s death in a story that unfolds between two summers. (NoveList)

Butler, Dori Hillestad. Sliding into home. When thirteen-year-old Joelle, a star baseball player, moves to a new town where the only option for girls is softball, she starts an all-girl baseball league against the wishes of her school coaches and others in the town. (NoveList)

Lorenzi, Natalie Dias. A long pitch home. When Bilal’s family suddenly moves to America, his father stays in Pakistan, and Bilal embraces baseball, an unexpected friend, and a new language. But this new way of life does not feel so special without Baba–will he ever get to America to see Bilal pitch a game. (NoveList)

MacLachlan, Patricia. Edward’s eyes. Edward is one of a large and close family that loves baseball, music, books, and each other, and when he unexpectedly dies and his parents donate his organs, his wonderful eyes go to a perfect recipient. (NoveList)

Mantell, Paul. Stealing home. Joey is sure he will not get along with the exchange student from Nicaragua who is staying with his family for a year, but they find common ground on the baseball field. (NoveList)

Rylander, Chris. The fourth stall. Sixth-graders Mac and Vince operate a business charging schoolmates for protection from bullies and for help to negotiate conflicts peacefully, with amazing challenges and results. (NoveList)

Wallace, Rich. Southpaw. After moving to New Jersey following his parents’ divorce, Jimmy Fleming tries out for the seventh-grade baseball team while also trying to cope with his new life and dealing with his overly-competitive father. (NoveList)

Wiles, Deborah. The Aurora County All-Stars.  For most boys in a small Mississippi town, the biggest concern one hot summer is whether their annual July 4th baseball game will be cancelled due to their county’s anniversary pageant, but after the death of the old man to whom twelve-year-old star pitcher House Jackson has been secretly reading for a year, House uncovers secrets about the man and the history of baseball in Aurora County that could fix everything. (NoveList)

Realistic fiction and adopted children

Griffin, Paul. When friendship followed me home. Seventh-grader Ben, always an outsider, is led into a deep friendship with Halley, who is being treated for cancer, by the special dog he and his adoptive mother take in. (NoveList)

Hartley, Julie. The finding place. Thirteen-year-old Kelly was adopted from China when she was an infant. When her dad deserts the family, she and her mother journey to China in a quest for Kelly’s origins and it changes their lives forever. (NoveList)

Levy, Dana Alison. The misadventures of the family Fletcher. Relates the adventures of a family with two fathers, four adopted boys, and a variety of pets as they make their way through a school year, Kindergarten through sixth grade, and deal with a grumpy new neighbor. (NoveList)

Lupica, Mike. Safe at home. Playing baseball was the one thing that made twelve-year-old Nick Crandall feel at home until he found acceptance with adoptive parents, but he faces a new struggle to fit in when he becomes the first seventh-grader ever to make the varsity baseball team. (NoveList)

Realistic fiction and fathers and sons

Creech, Sharon. Absolutely normal chaos. Thirteen-year-old Mary Lou grows up considerably during the summer while learning about romance, homesickness, death, and her cousin’s search for his biological father. (NoveList)

Paulsen, Gary. Road trip. A father and son embark on a road trip to a distant animal shelter to save a homeless border collie puppy. (NoveList)

Avi. The most important thing: stories about sons, fathers, and grandfathers. Explores the vital ties between fathers and sons, sharing tales of a boy who seeks to understand the wishes of his father’s ghost and a boy who makes surprising discoveries while camping with the eccentric grandfather he just met. (NoveList)

Paulsen, Gary. Field trip. Ben and his twin classmates, Charlotte and Jacob, are missing a school field trip so Ben’s father takes them, his new apprentice Brig, and the dogs on an adventure during which Ben manages to try out for a hockey academy against his parents’ wishes and the twins turn the road trip into a learning experience. (NoveList)

Realistic fiction and illness

Nicholls, Sall. Ways to live forever. Eleven-year-old Sam McQueen, who has leukemia, writes a book during the last three months of his life, in which he tells about what he would like to accomplish, how he feels, and things that have happened to him. (NoveList)

Conklin, Melanie. Counting Thyme. Newbery-winning Rules meets Counting by 7s in this affecting story of a girl’s devotion to her brother and what it means to be home. When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. (NoveList)

Williams, Carol Lynch. Pretty like us. A shy, small-town girl learns the true meaning of loyalty, love, and beauty through her friendship with a classmate who is suffering from a rare, life-threatening illness. (NoveList)

Book Reviews:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 02/01/16   

Bauer, Joan. Soar. Viking, 2016 [320p].  ISBN 978-0-451-47034-8 $16.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-7

When Jeremiah’s mother abandoned baby Jeremiah in the workplace of computer guru Walt Lopper, she seemed to know what she was doing. Walt legally adopted the boy and has never had a moment of regret raising him over the past eleven years—even when a childhood virus left Jeremiah with cardiomyopathy and sent him into a spiral of medical interventions, including a heart transplant at ten years old. Two years later, Jeremiah’s health has improved, and his obsession with baseball (enthusiastically nurtured by Walt) hasn’t faltered. When Walt gets a consulting job in Ohio, the pair moves to a town that just happens to be as baseball crazy as they are. Jeremiah’s a tad nerdy but fairly self-confident, and he not only cultivates a friendship with a neighbor girl but wrangles a sort-of coaching position with the middle school team. This gives him a front-row seat when a local scandal erupts around the death of a star high school pitcher and the coach who gave his players performance-enhancing drugs. Despite the ailing-adolescent premise and the generic doping subplot, this is not the predictable baseball-as-metaphor-for-life offering it seems but rather a character study in resilience and a tender evocation of a father-son relationship. “Tender,” however, is not code for “slow” or “dull”; Jeremiah is a wry and witty narrator, and his take-charge (but sensible) approach to life impels the story along at a brisk clip. Bauer’s offerings have tended to feature female protagonists, and it’s gratifying to see what she can do with a “guy book.” EB

(February 2016).  Used with the permission of Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books.

Horn Book    

Bauer, Joan Soar.  298 pp. Viking 2016. ISBN 978-0-451-47034-8

(3) 4–6 Baseball-crazy, heart-transplant-survivor Jeremiah, twelve, moves with his adoptive single dad to tiny Hillcrest, Ohio, where he endeavors to resurrect the town’s failing middle-school baseball team. There’s a lot going on in this heartstrings-tugging novel (even before you figure in subplots involving steroid abuse, a friend’s absent father, newborn eagles, and more), but Jeremiah’s upbeat personality and pragmatic voice should win readers over.    From the Fall 2016 issue of The Horn Book Guide.    Reprinted from The Horn Book Guide by permission of The Horn Book, Inc.,

School Library Journal           

BAUER, Joan. Soar. 304p. Viking. Mar. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780451470348.

Gr 4-6 –Sports, friendship, tragedy, and a love connection are all wrapped up in one heartwarming, page-turning story. Jeremiah lives and breathes baseball and wants nothing more than to be a professional player, but when he learns that he suffers from a severe heart condition, his dreams are put on hold. Soon after he and his single father move to a town that is something of a baseball capital, the entire community is shaken by the death of a beloved school baseball player—and a town scandal that is revealed in the aftermath. Jeremiah finds himself coaching and bringing baseball back to the local middle school and ends up motivating the entire town. When he and his father are faced with having to leave their new town behind, Jeremiah has to deal with the possibility of also leaving his heart in the very place that helped to make it stronger. This coming-of-age tale features a boy who is courageous and witty; readers—baseball fans or otherwise—will cheer on Jeremiah and this team. VERDICT The latest middle grade novel from this award-winning author is triumphant and moving.–Nikitia Wilson, Convent of the Sacred Heart School Library, New York City.  Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal, Copyright 2016.