Kids book club: Nic Stone’s ‘Fast Pitch’

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Twelve-year-old Shenice Lockwood comes from a long line of talented baseball players. Nicknamed “Lightning,” she is carrying on the tradition with her softball skills.

Shenice is the catcher and captain of the Fulton Firebirds, the first all-Black team in the predominantly white Dixie Youth Softball Association. She’s determined to lead her teammates through tournament season, maybe even to the league championship. Part of her dela wants to do this for her dad, who walks with a cane because he badly hurt his knee while stealing home during a college baseball game.

The narrator of “Fast Pitch,” Shenice is funny and honest about how she feels about herself and those around her. She thinks Drake, her younger but taller brother, is annoying. She tells how her parents are loving, supportive and sometimes confusing. She appreciates and praises her language-arts teacher as well as her “excellent friends,” especially Scoob, a boy she’s known since kindergarten, and Britt-Marie, her team’s center fielder.

Click here to join the Summer Book Club

But Shenice’s intense focus on the Firebirds gets sidetracked once she meets her great-granduncle Jack for the first time. When no one else can hear their conversation, he tells her about a baseball-related scandal that her late brother — her great-grandfather — was unfairly connected to decades ago. He wants her to clear his brother’s name from her.

Shenice and her parents had never heard about the scandal, but because Uncle Jack is ailing, she feels she must dedicate herself to this quest. The fact that Uncle Jack is secretive and not always clear-thinking makes her task even more difficult. Although she has limited free time and the internet doesn’t provide any helpful information, Shenice gets so involved with this search for the truth that readers may start to worry that she will let her own ball-playing opportunities slip away.

Throughout the book, author Nic Stone draws on her own experience as a softball player and smartly conveys the frustrations of a tough game as well as the fun tension of a close one. Whether dealing with the present or searching the past, Shenice and her story dela always moves at a confidant and fast pace.

in “Clean Getaway” (ages 8 to 12), Nic Stone tells the story of an eventful road trip that Shenice’s friend Scoob takes with his grandmother through the Southern United States.

Leslie Connor’s “The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle” (ages 8 to 12) follows a 12-year-old boy who is trying to understand how and why two friends have disappeared.

Elliott’s ADHD makes it hard for him to pay attention in school, but he’s super-focused in the kitchen, where he whips up delicious, complicated dishes. Elliott’s father dismisses this passion, though, and keeps harping on “The Incident.” This is something Elliott did a few months before that’s so bad he refuses to talk about it. When he partners for a school project (on cooking!) With a popular girl with her own challenges, funny, messy Elliott begins to think differently about his ADHD. But will he be able to tell the truth about “The Incident”?

The Summer Book Club is open to kids ages 6 to 14. They may read some or all of the books on our list. (Find a blurb for each book at wapo.st/kidspostbookclublaunch2022.) The first 600 kids registered will receive a notebook and pen. To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, that adult must fill out our form at wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2022. If you have questions, contact kidspost@washpost.com.

Do you have a book suggestion?

The 2022 KidsPost Summer Book Club has the theme “Speaking Truth,” and we would like to know your favorite books that relate to the theme. Kids ages 6 to 14 are eligible to participate; one entry per person. Have a parent or guardian fill out the top part of the form at wapo.st/kidspostYMAL and then share your suggestions by July 28. We may include your favorites in KidsPost. At the end of the summer, we will send a selection of books to three randomly selected kids who feel in suggestions. Winners will be notified by August 30.

A reminder from the KidsPost team: Our stories are geared to 7- to 13-year-olds. We welcome discussion from readers of all ages, but please follow our community rules and make appropriate comments for that age group.

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