As readers go, Andino seems to have it all, as heard in his sharp performance of Lupica's (Traveling Team ) latest baseball tale. The story centers on two Cuban brothers living in New York and trying to avoid being sent to foster care, or even back to Cuba, after their father dies. Michael Arroyo is the star of his Bronx Little League team, but he is benched when he is accused of being older than 12. With no father to help and his birth certificate lost in Cuba, Michael is at a loss for what to do. It doesn't help that both boys have inadvertently drawn the attention of the police (Michael for helping apprehend a crook, and his older brother Carlos for working for him). Andino has his work cut out for him: Dominican, Cuban, old, young, male, femaleâ€"he is totally convincing as every character. Particularly fun is the thespian uncle Timo of Michael's friend Manny; the boys talk Timo into playing "Papi" when they are visited by the officials. His transformation from surfer-dude to middle-aged Cuban refugee is as enjoyable as it is impressive. Ages 10-up. (July)[Page 57]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 5-8 Growing up in the Bronx and playing Little League baseball in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, it's no surprise that 12-year-old Michael Arroyo loves baseball, especially the New York Yankees, even though he can't afford to buy a ticket to watch them play. Michael's the best Little League pitcher in the district, and seems destined to lead his all-star team to the championship game, which will be held inside Yankee Stadium, with a trip to the Little League World Series on the line. But all that changes when a jealous rival coach challenges whether Michael is as young as he claims in this novel by Mike Lupica (Philomel, 2006). Placed on the sidelines, Michael desperately tries to find a way to get his birth certificate from Cuba while at the same time keeping social services from finding out that he and his older brother are living on their own following the recent death of their beloved papi. Michael needs all the help he can get from his best friend Manny and from a beautiful, mysterious girl he meets at the baseball field. Although the story moves slowly in a few spots, Paolo Andino's excellent narration will make listeners pull for Michael and his teammates. As good as the baseball games are, though, the best part of the book is when Manny's actor uncle impersonates Michael's father in an attempt to get the social services worker out of their hair. A sure hit with baseball fans.David Bilmes, Schaghticoke Middle School, New Milford, CT[Page 54]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.