Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 03/15/2017 First things first: don’t confuse this book with a diary. It is a playbook in which talented athlete Gabby Garcia records her strategies to “win at life.” And she’ll do anything to win. As the starting pitcher for her school’s baseball team, everything seems to be going the seventh-grader’s way. However, it all changes when her school is shut down due to an asbestos problem, and she becomes the “new kid” at a school that already has a star pitcher. Gabby has a difficult time making friends and finding her place, and she learns more about losing than she’d like. But as she learns some valuable lessons about teamwork and being a better friend, she manages to break her losing streak. Palmer creates a captivating world with baseball at its center. Gabby’s diarylike narration gives readers insight into the high-spirited protagonist’s thoughts and passion for baseball, and doodled illustrations give her playbook an authentic feel. Interestingly, Gabby’s Latina identity is not central to the story, which stays focused on universal middle-school struggles and experiences. - Copyright 2017 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 05/01/2017 Gr 4–6—The first in a planned series. Gabby Garcia is a 12-year-old baseball prodigy, and she knows it. She's on her best win streak ever when she's forced to switch to a new school—one with a very good and established ball team. Gabby expects to waltz into her new school and be welcomed onto the team with open arms and grateful praise, but things don't exactly go as she hoped. When Gabby is relegated to the field hockey team—the worst field hockey team ever—she discovers that the ragtag group is comprised of incredibly talented peers. The team members are entering the state talent contest together, and Gabby is determined to help them take first place, but she just can't get her heart away from the ballfield. This novel joins the plethora of middle grade books in hand-drawn, journal format, though Gabby would tell readers this is "definitely NOT a diary!" The cast is diverse, both in description and illustrations. The Chicago Cubs are referred to as "loveable losers" who haven't had a World Series win since 1908 and who haven't played in the World Series since 1945; however, they recently won the pennant in 2016. The plot is mildly interesting but not likely to keep most readers engaged for the long haul. VERDICT It's refreshing to see a female ballplayer protagonist in a middle grade novel. Consider for robust collections or where baseball stories circulate well.—Taylor Worley, Springfield Public Library, OR - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.