It is now the summer of July 2023, the schools have broken up for the holidays, and as we are in the UK the summer holidays have started with heavy rain. Nevertheless, it a summer of sport, fun and BOOKS. And why not combine all three! Recently I have been reading the Hockey Wars series, written by Sam Lawrence & Ben Jackson, a series of books based around girls and boys ice hockey teams and friendships, but now I am about to throw myself into a new series by the same authors, Softball Strikeout.
Softball Strikeout: The New Girl is a children’s chapter book; 13 chapters over 103 pages, and the start of a new sports based series, the sport being softball. It focuses on Olivia (or Liv as she prefers to be called) and her recent move to a new town, new school and new a softball team.
If you are new to softball, it is a very similar game to baseball, played with a bat and ball, but softballs are larger than baseballs, and the pitches are thrown underhand rather than overhand.
Olivia loves to play softball; her dad had taught her from a young age, and she had progressed to become a very good pitcher with a great fastball. But after moving house in a new town, she is anxious about starting a new school and making new friends, so playing softball is the least of her worries.
She soon becomes friends with a couple of girls in the park which leads her to try-out for the local Blue Jays girls’ softball team. This adds to her anxiety as she must prove herself to a new team, new coaches and new friends. Will she be able to make the team and do what she loves the most?
Overall, Softball Strikeout: The New Girl is a good introduction to a new series that has an emphasis on new beginnings, friendship and healthy competition through sport. It is a charming tale of overcoming fear and anxieties, making new friends and doing your best.
The story is told over 13 chapters and is an easy read. It starts slowly as it introduces the characters, but then moves along a good pace that will keep readers engaged and enthralled.
Whilst it is about softball, a lot of focus is on Olivia and overcoming her anxieties and making new friends, something that every young reader can relate to, especially after moving to a new house or school – or both! She must start all over from the beginning as she is too far away from her old friends and her old life.
It is a charming story of overcoming fear and anxiety of being the new person in school, the camaraderie of sport and the fun that healthy competition can provide.
Softball Strikeout: The New Girl, by Ben Jackson & Sam Lawrence, is a good start to a new series. It is not an all-out action-packed thrilling sporting drama, but one of friendships and being part of a team that makes very good easy reading (and it has some excellent illustrations too). I think that the Softball Strikeout series will be a big hit, a home run if you like, for readers 8+, it certainly won’t be a strikeout!
RRP: £7.99 (Paperback) / £3.13 (Kindle)
Available to buy from Amazon here.