Book Review: Strike Three, You’re Dead

Strike Three, You’re Dead by Josh Berk. 9780375970085. March 2013. Gr. 4-6.

Well, baseball season is in full swing*.  The Major League Baseball season is approaching the halfway mark of the season, and many little leaguers are daydreaming in right field as a pop fly approaches.  I thought this would be a good time to highlight a recent release that combines baseball with sleuthing.  The title is Strike Three, You’re Dead, and this is the read middle grade baseball fanatics are looking for.

Lenny Norbeck is a Philadelphia Phillies superfan.  He can quote statistics about the team, recount stories about Phillies legends of old, and knows all about the current players as well, down to the last man on the bench.  Where Lenny really shines, though, is pretending he is a baseball announcer.  He has perfected the voice and mannerisms of a real MLB announcer, so when he sees a commercial for an “Armchair Announcer” contest, he knows he must enter for the chance to broadcast an inning of a Phillies game.

Lenny gets help from his two best friends, who are both named Mike, and have collectively and comically become known as The Mikes.  They help Lenny chase his broadcasting dream, but when Lenny gets his opportunity to broadcast an inning, tragedy strikes*.  A young phenom pitcher for the Phillies drops dead on the pitcher’s mound right before what would have been Lenny’s inning to broadcast.  The game is cancelled, the boys are shocked by the death, and they begin thinking that there may have been foul* play involved.

They begin investigating, with help from a librarian at their local library (this earned the book major bonus points with me, especially because it was a male librarian!) and also enlist the help of an unlikely person who joins their group and the hunt for truth.

Strike Three, You’re Dead features a wealth of baseball trivia weaved into the narrative, and lots of joking between Lenny and his friends that keeps the mood light.  The mystery is somewhat rudimentary, reminding me of a “Scooby Doo” sort of sophistication level…not too complex, but lots of fun along the way.  This book is a home run* for baseball fans, mystery fans, and those that appreciate a fun adventure.

*I hope you didn’t balk at all of the baseball puns. Please enter your groans in the comments section.

Ryan H.Blogger: Ryan H.