Monday, January 22, 2007


Lupica, Mike. 2006. HEAT. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0399243011 [Suggested Grade Levels 6- 9]

With an arm that’s “a gift from the gods,” thirteen-year-old Michael Arroyo is a baseball standout, and it is his true passion and dream to pitch in the Little League World Series. While his dreams could become a reality, his must cover up the truth—his father has died suddenly and left him without a parent or guardian. Michael, and Carlos, his seventeen-year-old brother, try to avoid the foster care system by covering up the truth and pretending their father is away visiting relatives in Cuba while they desperately try to support themselves and fly under the radar of Department of Human Services. When the opposing team’s coach questions Michael’s age and eligibility, the pair receives assistance from an unlikely source. Lupica deftly draws his major characters, and secondary characters are also noteworthy. Between the crisp dialogue and the lively plot, readers will cheer with and for Michael as he realizes his dream and has his moment on the mound at Yankee Stadium.

After reading the novel, teens could journal about a loss they have suffered. As a prewriting activity, they could discuss what losses Michael suffers in the book (it would be important to point out other losses besides his father’s death). Using this as a springboard, they could then share their own experiences with loss and what they did to overcome it.

Readers could research the history of Little League World Series and compile statistics of competing teams. In addition, they could see if any former Little League stars have had a career in Major League Baseball.

Other books with baseball themes include:
Ritter, John. UNDER THE BASEBALL MOON. ISBN 0399236236

By Rose Brock

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