Teaming Up for “Baseball Genius”

Two sports stars are turning a new page in their retirement. Tim Green has penned his 19th book for middle schoolers with the help of legendary New York Yankee Derek Jeter.

“Baseball Genius,” is a young adult novel that tells the story of Jalen, named after Jeter’s nephew, who is an average kid with extraordinary talent. Like many of Tim’s books this is more than just a sports story, it shines light on elements of perseverance, kindness, and overcoming challenges. The book also sends a very important message with a tough female character who represents the strong women in his life.


“Baseball Genius” is now available wherever books are sold. To learn more about the book or any of the books Tim has written, visit

Game changer Tim Green speaks to area students

Students from Ellis Elementary, East Buchanan Elementary, Clinton County Middle School, and East Buchanan Middle School all had the opportunity to hear author and former NFL football player Tim Green speak at East Buchanan High School in Gower on Thursday, March 30. Green told the children how books can be a “game changer” in their lives, how reading can make a person smarter (Reading is Weight Lifting for your Brain) and how you can experience so many things through reading.

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He also emphasized that through those experiences, he feels reading can help a person become kinder.

Pat Williams, Library Media Specialist for the East Buchanan School District, arranged Tim Green’s visit.

“We were very fortunate to be a part of his inspiring presentation. Our funding and transportation was provided by Scholastic Book Fair profits and PTA,” said Diane Shryock, Clinton County R-III librarian.


Tim Green not only writes wonderful sports books for 4th -8th graders, but has also written more than a dozen books for adults. After studying writing at Syracuse University, where he was an All American football player, Tim was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons, where he was a top defensive player for eight years.

Books That Speak the Truth to Boys

A new generation of frank novels for teens and preteens aims to do what Judy Blume has done for generations of girls

By Erin Geiger Smith
March 20, 2017 12:41 p.m. ET

“Spurt,” a book for boys 11 to 14, is filled with frank talk about exactly what’s happening to the main character’s young body. The reverse side of its eye-grabbing, pimples-and-all jacket features a dark blue cover for a different, fake book, a nod to the notion a young reader may prefer his friends think he’s reading up on hot-air balloon disasters.

The book, by Australian author Chris Miles and released in February in the U.S., is just one example of a popular and expanding genre of novels for adolescent and preteen boys. They recall the way Judy Blume entertained, comforted and informed generations of young girls.

These new stories reflect the humor and complications of boys’ lives as they truly know them and present fully formed, nuanced characters of both sexes, say booksellers, authors and educators.

In the past, such novels were “more likely to be picked up by girls, and shared between girls, too,” says Liz Kotin, content director at Brightly, a reading resource website for parents run by publisher Penguin Random House. While Harry Potter and Percy Jackson broadened the idea of boys at the center of novels, Ms. Kotin says, these newer offerings put boys in the forefront differently. They deal mostly in reality and dig into boys’ daily experiences.

Books published since 2016 include Richard Peck’s “The Best Man,” about a young boy searching for male role models; Kwame Alexander’s “Booked,” a sports-related story written in verse; Jake Gerhardt’s “Me and Miranda Mullaly,” a story with three male protagonists that talks about crushes from the boys’ point of view; and “Going Where It’s Dark,” by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, about a young boy with a stutter dealing with bullying.The real cover art of ‘Spurt,’ by Chris Miles. The book, which focuses on puberty, also has a fake jacket, below, for readers embarrassed by the topic.

Jason Reynolds’s “As Brave as You” was one of his two entries on the Chicago Public Library’s 2016 list of best new titles for third through eighth graders. It’s a book that Chicago library staff member Liv Hanson handed to a reluctant 9-year-old reader.

“There was something about [main character] Genie’s questioning process and the early mention of dog poop that really captured his attention,” Ms. Hanson says, laughing. He read the first chapter immediately, checked it out and loved the whole thing. “His mother is still thanking me.”

Mr. Reynolds has written or co-written five novels in about three years, including some for older adolescents and young teen readers.

He says he’s regularly asked about a scene in his first novel, “When I Was the Greatest.” It involves a boy at a high school party “in a backroom, with a young lady,” as Mr. Reynolds describes it, with the boy “scared and saying to himself, ‘I’m not ready.’ ”

“It’s OK to tell everyone you were afraid and didn’t do it,” Mr. Reynolds says. “We’ve always been told to pretend as if we’re not afraid. I want to air it out and let all the young men off the hook.”

Novels with these themes existed before, but the massive success of R.J. Palacio’s 2012 “Wonder,” about a grade-school boy with facial disfigurement, encouraged authors to see “more of an opening to be able to write stories for boys that allow their characters to feel in different ways,” says Brein Lopez, manager of Children’s Book World, a Los Angeles bookstore.

Authors are also more likely to include strong female characters in books on subjects that appeal to boys, including books about sports, Mr. Lopez says. He cites “Booked,” which follows a young soccer player with troubles at home and a crush on a girl.

Thoughtful and clever female characters are a priority for author and former professional football player Tim Green, who joined ex-baseball star Derek Jeter to write “Baseball Genius,” released in March and already a best seller. In the book, introspective middle-schooler Jalen’s propensity for math and love of sports combine to help save the career of an aging baseball superstar. One of his best friends is a girl who loves baseball. She challenges Jalen and helps him reason through weighty problems.

Mr. Green says he focuses on writing young female characters who “make really good decisions under pressure.” It’s not only reflective of his own daughters and recognizable to his female readers, he says, but “it’s really good for boys to read about a girl character like that.”

Adolescent boys and those who live with them know humor is often what they best relate to, says Mr. Miles, author of “Spurt.” The facts of puberty offered a natural place for relatable—and graphic—comedy. He says he used that frankness, plus cultural touchstones like reality television, to comfort boys in a difficult physical stage while also addressing their emotional growth. (He struggled with late-arriving puberty.)

The “cringe-worthy conversations” of “Spurt” caused Ragan O’Malley, a librarian at a Brooklyn, N.Y., private school, to want to cover her eyes a bit. But, she says, “I can see how a teenage boy would say, ‘Finally.’ ”

REVIEW of BASEBALL GENIUS from School Library Connection

Baseball Genius

2017. 352pp. $16.99 hc. Aladdin (Simon & Schuster). 9781481468640. Grades 4-8

From the first page to the last, Jalen Deluca’s exploits with his friends will keep readers in suspense. Living with his dad in a run-down train station, Jalen helps his struggling father operate the Silver Liner Diner. More than anything, Jalen wants to get on a baseball travel team this summer, but he can’t afford the exorbitant fees. In a gambit to steal and sell signed baseballs from star Yankees player James Yager’s home batting cage, Jalen is caught by the player himself. In a panic, Jalen reveals his secret: he is a baseball genius, who just might revitalize Yager’s fading career. Jalen Deluca has a gifted math mind, with the ability to see, remember, and analyze a pitcher’s statistics with ease. Even better, using preternatural ability, he can predict the pitches with accuracy before they are thrown. This proves lucky for Yager, an aging future hall of famer who is in the crosshairs of the General Manager for his dismal batting average. Green and Jeter know how to grab readers and keep them hooked all the way through this middle grade sports fiction. It is a page turner for baseball fans who revel in realistic gamesmanship and play-by-play excitement. This is a winner! Lonna Pierce, School Librarian, MacArthur & Thomas Jefferson Elementary Schools, Binghamton, New York

Highly Recommended

Derek Jeter’s New Children’s Book Has Some Nice Things to Say About Derek Jeter

Yankees legend Derek Jeter stopped by CBS This Morning to talk about a new children’s book he co-authored with former Atlanta Falcons linebacker and radio personality Tim Green.

The book, titled Baseball Genius, is about a young boy who tries to help a fictional baseball player out of a hitting slump. Along the way, he runs into none other than Derek Jeter. CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King decided to read that part of the book aloud, and it ended up leaving Jeter a bit red in the face. “Jeter’s pale green eyes were warm and kind,” King read, asking Jeter if he wrote that part. Jeter is no stranger to comments about his looks, but he’s proven to be a good sport about it, as evidenced by the 2001 Saturday Night Live sketch “Yankee Wives.”

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