Reviews for Heat

Booklist Reviews 2006 April #1
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 6--9. Michael Arroyo is a 13-year-old Cuban American who lives in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Yes, he is a Little League ballplayer, and, yes, he has a dream: to pitch in the Little League World Series. To do so, his South Bronx All-Stars will need to beat the best the greater New York area has to offer in the regional championship, to be played in--you guessed it--Yankee Stadium. This setup sounds like yet another Rocky meets Bad News Bears tearjerker: the immigrants from the Bronx take on the white-bread rich kids from the suburbs. It is that (with some notable twists), but it's much more, too. Michael and his brother, 17-year-old Carlos, have a problem: their beloved father is dead, and the boys are hoping to avoid a foster home by pretending Papi is visiting a sick relative in Miami. Lupica wrings plenty of genuine emotion from the melodramatic frame story, but he sidesteps the slough of social significance by building characters who speak for themselves, not the author, and by enlivening the story with a teen version of street humor. The dialogue crackles, and the rich cast of supporting characters--especially Michael's battery mate, catcher and raconteur Manny--nearly steals the show. Top-notch entertainment in the Carl Hiaasen mold. ((Reviewed April 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Fall
Twelve-year-old Cuban refugee Michael Arroyo dreams of leading his Bronx team to the Little League World Series, but he must cope with the sudden death of his beloved father and challenges to his age from an opposing team. Colorful characters, expressive dialogue, and fast baseball action are spiced up by more than a little melodrama. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2006 March #1
Michael Arroyo's left arm is "a gift from the gods." His Papi would say, "Someday, you will make it to the World Series." Michael has grown up the object of his father's dreams, but what he loved most was just playing catch with his father in Cuba and, now, playing pickup games with his friends in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Lurking behind the scenes is the issue of Michael's real age and whether he's really eligible to play in the Little League World Series, if his team makes it that far. Lupica follows his bestselling Travel Team (2004) with another winner. He has the veteran sportswriter's gift of dialogue and muscular prose, employed well in creating believable characters and well-developed action scenes. The story culminates in a tear-jerking scene with Michael on the mound in Yankee Stadium, making this work an irresistible treat for sports fans. (Fiction. 10+) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 February #3

Michael Arroyo's life is heating up in several ways--some of them unpleasant. The Cuban-born 12-year-old and his older brother, Carlos, have been living alone in their Bronx apartment since the death of their father several months earlier. Afraid they will be split up before Carlos turns 18 and can become Michael's legal guardian, the two have only confided the news of their parent's passing to Michael's supportive best friend and a kind elderly neighbor who looks out for the siblings. The boys' elaborately staged ruse ostensibly convinces an official with the children's services administration that their father is still caring for them. On another front, ace pitcher Michael is barred from playing on his all-star baseball team--on track for earning a spot in the Little League World Series--when opposing coaches file a petition accusing the boy of being older than 12 and efforts to procure a copy of his birth certificate from Cuba are unsuccessful. But warming up Michael's life in a positive way is his new friendship with a beautiful, elusive girl who turns out to be the daughter of a celebrated Yankees pitcher. The finale may stretch readers' credibility, and at times the drawn-out dialogue slackens the novel's pacing. But convincing characterization and exciting on-field action help Lupica (Travel Team ) throw out a baseball story with heart. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)

[Page 157]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 April #1
"Convincing characterization and exciting on-field action help Lupica throw out a baseball story with heart," according to PW. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2006 April

Gr 5-8 -When Michael Arroyo is on the baseball diamond, everything feels right. He's a terrific pitcher who dreams of leading his South Bronx All-Stars to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. It's a dream he shared with his father, one they brought with them as they fled Cuba and wound up living in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Michael's ultimate dream is to play in the major leagues like his hero, El Grande, Yankee star and fellow Cuban refugee. Tragically, Papi died of a heart attack a few months back, leaving Michael and his older brother, Carlos, to struggle along on their own. Afraid of being separated, they hide the news of their father's death from everyone but a kindly neighbor, Mrs. Cora, and Michael's best friend, Manny Cabrera. When a bitter rival spreads rumors that Michael is older than he appears, the league demands that he be benched until he can produce a birth certificate. As he did in Travel Team (Philomel, 2004), Lupica crafts an involving, fast-paced novel peopled with strong, well-developed characters. Readers will find themselves rooting for Michael as he struggles with the loss of his father, stumbles into his first boy-girl relationship, and yearns to play baseball. The sports scenes are especially well written; fittingly, the euphoric finale takes place at Yankee Stadium. At times, the author veers toward melodrama but he keeps his lively plot on course with humor, crisp dialogue, and true-to-life characters. Lupica scores another hit with this warmhearted novel.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

[Page 144]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2006 April
Lupica's second middle school sports book follows Travel Team (Philomel, 2004/VOYA December 2004) and relates the story of twelve-year-old Michael Arroyo who considers baseball his "best friend," has a terrific once-in-a-generation pitching arm, and misses Papi, his father who is not around. Originally from Cuba and now living in the South Bronx near Yankee Stadium, Michael dominates Little League games with at-home support from his seventeen-year-old brother, Carlos, and on-the-field help from his sidekick and catcher, Manny, a friend who "always has his back." Trouble arises when Michael's overpowering talent embarrasses a spoiled brat opponent, provoking the player's father to question Michael's age and demand to see a birth certificate. Adults cannot acquire the necessary proof from Havana, and Michael is benched. Targeting middle school readers, this sports novel hits the sweet spot during the on-field play, and many diverse secondary characters-Maria Cuellar plays second base-bring life to the action. Although they are necessary to the story, subplots of Carlos scalping Yankee tickets, the plight of Cuban immigrants, and an alluring girl with a powerful throwing arm (and a secret) slightly interrupt the novel's flow. The author's devotion to the New York Yankees and constant name-dropping does not encourage a gray area and will either annoy or be embraced by teens. One viewpoint is that the Yankees, Katie Couric, Oprah, Dan Patrick of ESPN, and the Daily News all mentioned on a single page seems excessive. That complaint aside, this positive portrayal of Hispanic teens competing athletically is recommended for both school and public libraries.-Rollie Welch 3Q 4P M J Copyright 2006 Voya Reviews.