Disney-Hyperion. May 2024. 192p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781368090094.
Gr 5-7–Curveball is certainly just that: readers will think they are in for a story about baseball, and before they know it, they’re in the middle of a family drama with some terrific role-playing game action thrown in. While this title seems to have something for every reader, athletes struggling to remember their passion for the game, or players with overbearing parents, will find that this is the book for them. Even those domineering parents themselves might enjoy and benefit from this story and from flipping through the pages of Elena’s summer with a hurt knee. Students will connect with the pressures Elena faces, from team competition to family and friend dynamics. Elena also deals with the unique challenge of being the only girl playing a male-dominated sport. Meanwhile, gamers will welcome the respect given to their hobby, and older elementary and middle school students will appreciate the way characters navigate relationships. The illustrations provide readers with immediate insight into each characters’ personality. Teachers who are helping students find their path amidst pressure from parents and peers can recommend this title as good starting point for discussions.
VERDICT Purchase where sports graphic novels and role playing games are popular, especially where there are gaps in female representation.

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