Reviews for Top of the Order

Booklist Reviews 2009 March #1
An unusual focus sets this girl-joins-a-team-of-boys tale apart from the general run of such. The Panthers have no one to cover second base, so when Sydney shows up with her pink glove, they reluctantly give her a go, even over the enraged objections of her brother, team pitcher Gig. But Coy leaves Sydney a peripheral character, building his main story around four fifth-graders at the top of the Panthers lineup: Gig; outfielder Isaac; power-hitting newcomer Diego; and Jackson, who narrates and plays shortstop until the catcher breaks an ankle. All four have individual issues, from a father about to ship to Afghanistan to the stress of shuttling between divorced parents, but they share a simple desire to win ball games--as well as anxiety over the rumored atrocities awaiting them in middle school. Keeping the tone light and folding in suspenseful game action, Coy underscores the importance of teamwork, bonding, and being open to change both on and off the field. Matt Christopher fans will recognize the pitch. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 January #2
Bored with school, ten-year-old Jackson Kennedy can't wait for summer baseball, but as the season approaches, so do distractions: A girl joins the team (with a pink glove, no less), his mother has begun dating again, middle school looms and his friend's father has been called up for service in Afghanistan. Except for Sydney's joining the team, the other issues stay in the background, and Jackson's first-person narration tells a simple and straightforward tale of individuals who come together to become a team. Sydney handles taunts, pitches aimed at her head, base runners barreling into her and batting woes to earn the respect of her team, though she curiously drops from Jackson's radar as soon as the season ends, and his bond with other boys solidifies as they brace themselves for middle school. Appealing characters and plenty of baseball action will make this a hit with young sports fans. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 March #3

Coy (Box Out) brings his successful combination of relatable characters and sports action to his middle-grade debut. Jackson Kennedy, the affable fifth-grade narrator, lives for baseball. Playing shortstop for his school team helps take the sting off his troubles at home and school: divorced parents, a newly dating mom and middle-school worries about eighth-graders who "make you drink a Coke so fast, you hurl in the garbage can." Jackson and his team have high hopes for the coming season until Sydney--his best friend Gig's sister--shows up to play second base (with her pink glove, no less). Jackson mentally wrestles with this as most boys his age would: she's a good player and the team needs her, but she's still a girl. Coy does a good job keeping his story grounded in the concerns that kids this age would have, and his characters--such as Gig, the goofball whose dad is about to be shipped to Afghanistan, and G-Man, Jackson's baseball-loving grandpa--are appealing and true to life. Young baseball fans will enjoy the infield banter, Gig's corn-dogs-up-the-nose antics and the grand slam ending. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)

[Page 61]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 March

Gr 3-6--Jackson approaches the end of fifth grade with mixed feelings: he's ready for middle school, but word is that eighth graders make life miserable for the incoming class. It's May, though, and now he's looking forward to baseball. The team has some great players, but is down a second baseman, and if one can't be found, the season is going to have to be forfeited. When Gig's sister shows up at practice, Gig is furious. But Sydney quickly shows her stuff, leaving Jackson in a quandary. Does he support Gig by trying to pressure her to quit the team, or does he put his feelings for the team ahead of their friendship? To further complicate matters, Jackson and his brother are shuffled back and forth between their divorced parents' households, and his mother is dating again. The adults in his life want him to challenge himself. Can't they see that his life is already full of challenges? Coy effortlessly captures the voices of boys on the verge of adolescence. Jackson and his friends are fully developed. Gig's perception of his sister as always showing him up comes through clearly, and when he tells Jackson, "Baseball was the one place I didn't have to deal with her. Now she wants to wreck that, too," students will appreciate the dilemma. Gripping play-by-play and a fast-moving plot will appeal to sports enthusiasts and reluctant readers.--Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

[Page 142]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2009 October
Jackson Kennedy loves baseball more than anything, and he finally gets a chance to play shortstop on his team, the Panthers, when the position opens up. The problem will be finding a good second baseman to take his place. Enter Sydney, his best friend Gig's sister. Gig hates it that she wants to join the team, especially with her lucky pink glove. The problem is that she is good--really good. Ten-year-old Jackson is already struggling through school as well as dealing with his parents' divorce and his mom dating again. The last thing he needs is a rift with his best friend, but Gig stops speaking to him after Jackson practices in-field plays with Sydney without telling him. On top of everything else, now Coach wants him to play catcher instead of shortstop. This fast-moving tale has engaging characters and plenty of baseball play-by-play for fans of the game. The conflicts that plague him are in perfect proportion to a ten-year-old's perspective, where an angry best friend and a goofy guy dating your mom really do feel like the weight of the world on your shoulders. The strength of teamwork is emphasized here, making it a fun read with a positive message.--Laura Lehner. 4Q 4P M J Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.