King of the Bench: No Fear!
Oh, and if you’re wondering why Steve would write a book and tell total strangers all about the humiliating phobia that almost ruined his first year on the baseball team? Duh. It’s pretty much a rule that you spill your guts when you write a book about yourself.
Sports Notebook Novel!
Steve is not a natural athlete, and plays mainly to make his father happy. He's always warming the bench, but surprisingly makes his middle school baseball team. He's fairly happy to be playing for the Spiro T. Agnew Mighty Plumbers-- even if he never gets up to bat, he gets to hang out with his teammates, ride the bus to games, and watch Coach Earwax fumblingly try to take the team to victory. When a teammate gets hit by a ball in a rather blood-soaked way, Steve because afraid that he will get hit as well, which makes it difficult for him to get up to the plate. With the help of his quirky teammates, will the Mighty Plumbers be able to win, even is head jock Jimmy Jimerino isn't there to take them to victory.
I had never heard of the one panel comic In the Bleachers, but the exaggerated comic style will be appealing to readers who like their text interspersed with lots of drawings. There's also a lot of goofy details-- snack bags with chia seeds and tofu, Coach Earwax picking his nose hairs out on bus rides, and anecdotal asides about school culture.
In the tradition of Tim Green and Mike Lupica, we even have a girl on the team-- Becky is not only pretty and nice to Steve, but she plays some heavy duty baseball. We definitely need more characters like her in tween literature!
Hand this to just about any reluctant reader between the ages of 8 and 14, especially if they are wearing a baseball jersey! I can only hope that Steve goes on to play football and basketball in future volumes!