Kids book club: Nic Stone’s ‘Fast Pitch’

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Shenice Lockwood, 12, comes from a long line of talented baseball players. Nicknamed “Lightning”, she carries on the tradition with her softball skills.

Shenice is the catcher and captain of the Fulton Firebirds, the first all-black team in the predominantly white Dixie Youth Softball Association. She’s determined to lead her teammates through tournament season, maybe even to the league championship. Part of her wants to do this for her dad, who walks with a cane because he seriously injured his knee while flying home from a college baseball game.

“Fast Pitch” narrator, Shenice is funny and honest about how she feels about herself and those around her. She thinks Drake, her younger but taller brother, is boring. She talks about how loving, supportive and sometimes confusing her parents are. She appreciates it and praises it language arts teacher and her “great friends,” including Scoob, a boy she’s known since kindergarten, and Britt-Marie, center fielder on her team.

Click here to join the Summer Reading Club

But Shenice’s intense focus on the Firebirds is diverted once she meets her great-great-uncle Jack for the first time. When no one else can hear their conversation, he tells her about a baseball-related scandal that his late brother — his great-grandfather — was unjustly linked to decades ago. He wants her to clear her brother’s name.

Shenice and her parents had never heard of the scandal, but because Uncle Jack is sick, she feels she must dedicate herself to this quest. The fact that Uncle Jack is secretive and not always lucid makes his task even more difficult. Although she has limited free time and the internet provides no useful information, Shenice is so involved in this search for the truth that readers may begin to fear that she is passing up her own opportunities to play ball.

Throughout the book, author Nic Stone draws on her own experience as a softball player and cleverly conveys the frustrations of a tough game as well as the fun tension of a loved one. Whether it’s the present or the search for the past, Shenice and her story are always moving at a fast and confident pace.

In “Clean Getaway(8 to 12 years old), Nic Stone tells the story of an eventful road trip that Shenice’s friend Scoob takes with his grandmother through the southern United States.

by Leslie Connor “The Truth Told by Mason Buttle” (ages 8-12) follows a 12-year-old boy who tries to figure out how and why two friends went missing.

Elliott’s ADHD keeps him from paying attention in school, but he’s super focused in the kitchen, cooking up delicious, complicated dishes. Elliott’s father, however, rejects this passion and continues to dwell on “The Incident”. It’s something Elliott did a few months ago, it’s so bad he refuses to talk about it. When he teams up on a school project (about cooking!) with a popular girl with her own challenges, the funny and messy Elliott begins to think differently about his ADHD. But will he be able to tell the truth about “The Incident”?

The summer reading club is open to children aged 6 to 14. They can read some or all of the books on our list. (Find a blurb for each book at wapo.st/kidspostbookclublaunch2022.) The first 600 kids to register will receive a notebook and pen. To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, that adult must complete our form at wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2022. If you have any questions, contact kidspost@washpost.com.

Do you have a book suggestion?

KidsPost Summer Reading Club 2022 is themed “Speaking Truth” and we’d love to hear about your favorite books that relate to this theme. Children ages 6-14 are eligible to participate; one entry per person. Ask a parent or guardian to fill out the top part of the form at wapo.st/kidspostYMAL, then share your suggestions by July 28. We can include your favorites in KidsPost. At the end of the summer, we will send a selection of books to three randomly chosen children who have sent in suggestions. Winners will be notified by August 30.

A reminder from the KidsPost team: Our stories are for ages 7-13. We welcome discussions from readers of all ages, but please follow our community guidelines and make comments appropriate for this age group.

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