Playing the field
by Janette Rallison
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Thirteen-year-old McKay has to improve his algebra grade or he'll have to quit the baseball team. His friend Tony thinks the solution to his dilemma is to get to know Serena, a pretty girl with a history of straight A's. If McKay can convince her that he likes her, then he'll have the help he needs and Tony can flirt with her two friends. Everything works beautifully until Serena uncovers the plot, and her friends become enemies when Tony turns out to be a less-than-suave boyfriend. McKay's grade improves, but he takes no satisfaction from all the effort without Serena to share in his success, because he really does like her. He also has to deal with his little brother who shares his room and keeps getting into all his stuff, and parents who just don't seem to understand that an eighth grader needs a room of his own. Rallison uses humor and realistic characters to bring the boy's problems to a satisfying conclusion. The protagonist is genuine, honest, and endearing without being sappy or pathetic next to the more Casanovalike Tony. Plus, this book is really funny. It should be a hit with anybody interested in boys, girls, baseball, friends, and that mysterious world of a first crush.-Linda Bindner, formerly at Truman State University, Kirksville, MO
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