Children’s Book Reviews
Children's Book Reviews: Tagged Out
Publish July 12, 2016
Joyce Grant’s debut novel, Tagged Out, is an engaging, fast-paced story about homophobia, bullying, teamwork and baseball. Eighth-grader, Nash Calvecchio, loves playing shortstop on the Toronto Blues Pee Wee team, but is disgruntled that he and his friends are having such a terrible season. Not only is it hard to lose every game, Nash and the Blues are especially frustrated at being repeatedly defeated by their rich rivals, the Parkhill Pirates. The arrival of all-star player Jock Christobel seem like the miracle the team needs, until Nash discovers Jock is gay. Jealous of Jock’s amazing baseball skills and uncomfortable with Jock’s sexual orientation, Nash repeatedly lashes out at the Blues’ newest player, even as the rest of the team begins to accept Jock into the group. However, when Jock is attacked by some of the Pirates, Nash must decide if he will stand up for his teammate. As in other novels from Lorimer’s hi-lo Sports Stories series, Tagged Out discusses important issues, like homophobia, through a sports-focused lens. This approach could result in a plot that feels awkward and contrived, but Grant has made baseball so integral to Tagged Out that the story never feels forced. Nash and his friends wrestle with the challenges of working as a team both on and off the field, and although the novel moves quickly, the pace of the plot doesn’t take away from the emotional impact of the book. Nash’s realization that Jock faces some kind of discrimination and harassment almost every day is an especially powerful scene. Readers will definitely be cheering for the Blues final game of the season. With strong characters and lots of action, the deeper themes of Tagged Out ensure that even readers who aren’t familiar with baseball, or don’t consider themselves sports fans, will find many things to think about.
James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers
ISBN 13: 978-1-4594-1075-6
Roseanne Gauthier is the Youth Services Librarian for the Prince Edward Island (PEI) Public Library Service, and is PEI's 2017 award-winning 'Champion of Reading'. She has worked in the Faculties of Education at both the University of Prince Edward Island and Mount Saint Vincent University and spent two amazing years as the Children’s Librarian at the Confederation Centre Public Library. She holds an MLIS from Dalhousie University, and an MA from the University of Waterloo. Roseanne lives in Charlottetown, PEI with her husband, their adorable daughter, and two tuxedo cats.
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