Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters
After spending the previous three years in Atlanta, Georgia, thirteen-year-old Satoshi Matsumoto, the strong-willed protagonist of Suzanne Kamata’s spirited new novel, Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters, is having a hard time readjusting to life in Japan. Satoshi misses his American friends, with whom he played on a championship middle-school baseball team, and the teacher and classmates at his new school in Japan treat him like an outsider. Satoshi’s only consolations are his dream of becoming a standout on the baseball team at his new school and the time he spends at home with his kind-hearted grandfather, Oji-chan. A former baseball star who founded the team at Satoshi’s new school, Oji-chan is suffering from dementia and has become oddly attached to his “pet,” Nana-chan, a robotic baby seal. When Satoshi learns that the school’s administrators plan to eliminate the little-league baseball team if it fails to win the forthcoming national championship, he becomes even more determined to make the team and lead his teammates to victory. An imperfect young hero, Satoshi doesn’t always do the right thing. To gain the acceptance of his classmates, he temporarily turns his back on an unpopular girl who wants to be his friend. And at a critical moment in the novel, he ignores the instructions of his coach and puts his own desire for glory before the needs of his teammates. But Satoshi is humbled by his failures and learns from his mistakes, and by the end of the story, he finds a way to make up for past misdeeds and bring honor to his school, his teammates, and his family. Author Suzanne Kamata’s writing is sharp and engaging throughout the book, and the lively illustrations by Tracy Nishimura Bishop help bring the story’s characters to life.
David Shirley ©2020 Parents’ Choice
David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.