Reviews for Girl Who Threw Butterflies

Booklist Reviews 2009 March #2
Molly thinks that girls’ softball is just “baseball translated into a foreign language,” so she tries out for the boys’ baseball team. She can throw a wicked knuckleball, which floats and bobs like a butterfly (hence the title), and this skill, coupled with her intelligent baseball sense, earns her a spot on the team, thanks in part to a coach who is a patient and caring teacher. There is the initial expected harassment from some of her male teammates and an important game sequence during the last inning of this novel, but what transpires in between is an honest, sometimes humorous, and emotionally moving account of one girl’s adjustment to the death of her baseball-loving father and her relationship with her mother, of whom Molly thinks, “I love you and all that, but right now everything about you bothers me.” Throw in a friendship with her catcher that heads in the direction of romance, and this title becomes a sure winner with middle-school girls, whether they are sports fans or not. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #3
Six months after her father's death in a car accident, Molly is still doing her best to "[steer] her little boat through the rocky waters of eighth grade without capsizing." But her relationship with her mother is wobbly; neither of them is able to talk about "the most important stuff, what was closest to the bone." Only Molly's best friend Celia seems to know what to say (or not say). With her mother pushing her to rejoin the softball team, Molly makes a bold decision: the young knuckleballer shows up at tryouts for the boys' baseball team instead. It's a step she knows her dad, a diehard Cubs' fan, would have approved of. The school jocks, unfortunately, are less encouraging. But Lonnie, a teammate and new friend, is supportive, as are the adult coaches. Cochrane does readers a favor here: he never overstates the metaphors. He also has a deft touch with teen dialogue. Most impressive, though, is the way he allows Molly to deal with her emotions at her own speed and in her own way-and, in so doing, creates a compassionate, perceptive, pitch-perfect portrait of teenage grief. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 January #2
With tender poignancy, Cochrane gets right to the heart of young Molly's painful journey. Her father died in an accident, and her mother has withdrawn to deal with her own pain. She shared a love of baseball with her father, which seems to be her only tenuous connection to the happiness she once knew. He taught her how to throw a knuckleball, and she uses that unique skill to join the boys' baseball team. With loving encouragement from some dear friends and some leaps of faith, she comes to terms with the changes in her life. Careful to avoid pathos, the author is particularly adept at capturing just the right turn of phrase as Molly narrates her story. She sees herself as a "brave-hearted poster girl, Miss Difficulty Overcome," and as someone who "had become an island." Impeccable syntax lends authenticity to the rocky road that is middle school, baseball practices and games, and to Molly's relationships with her peers and with her mother. Lovely and memorable. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews
Cochrane (Sport) revisits the baseball diamond in this unhurried novel about a girl with a mean knuckleball ("Molly loved watching one of her knuckleballs in flight, but what she felt was not self-admiration at all, just simple curiosity. What was this one going to do?"). Dealing with her father's death in a car accident six months prior and her mother's subsequent zombie-like disinterest in life, Molly hopes that playing on the eighth-grade boys' baseball team will keep her connected to her dad. Molly is bolstered by her free-spirited friend, Celia (who steals every scene she's in), and Lonnie, a kindhearted, artistically inclined catcher. Cochrane offers poignant flashbacks of father-daughter bonding, realistic mother-daughter squabbling and some nail-biting moments on the pitcher's mound, but some readers may find the story's pace sluggish. Still, Cochrane's honest, quiet prose should find fans, as Molly finally pitches a winning game, earns the respect of her teammates and symbolically "lets go" of her need to understand her dad's death. Ages 10-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 March

Gr 5-9--In this sensitive sports novel, a thoughtful eighth grader works through the grief she feels over her father's death. In the months following his car accident, Molly's comfortable life has been turned upside down and her mother has become a stranger. Molly and her father had always been close; as they played catch together, he passed along his love of baseball and much of his philosophy of life as well. A loyal fan of lovable losers like the Chicago Cubs, he taught Molly to throw a knuckleball, a pitch that flutters like a butterfly. He told her: "You don't aim a butterfly. You release it." Molly finds comfort in her memories and decides to try out for the boys' baseball team. She meets some resistance from her teammates, but with the help of a sympathetic coach and friends, she earns a spot on the team. In Molly, Cochrane crafts an awkward yet engaging heroine whose perceptions and interactions with family, friends, and supporting characters ring true. Crisply written sports action balances the internal drama. Suggest this well-written character study to readers who enjoyed Kristi Roberts's My Thirteenth Season (Holt, 2005) and Karen Day's No Cream Puffs (Random, 2008).--Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

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