A Great Review by School Library Journal

GREEN, Tim & Derek Jeter. Baseball Genius. 352p. ebook available. S. & S./Aladdin. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481468640. POP

Gr 5-8–Green teams up with Jeter in his latest piece of sports fiction. Jalen is the son of an Italian immigrant. He lives with his father, who works long days at his diner trying to make ends meet. Jalen has serious baseball talent and has just made a travel team. The only problem is that he needs some extra cash to pay for his team fees. Jalen’s friends Cat and Daniel live near a Major League Baseball player’s house, and Yankees star James “JY” Yager routinely signs batting practice balls and sells them to benefit a youth sports foundation. Jalen knows that if he can get his hands on a few of those balls, he can easily sell them on eBay to pay for his travel team fees. What he does not see coming is an injured ankle keeping Yager home from a Yankees road trip—and Jalen is caught red-handed. Jalen tells Yager that he has the ability to read pitchers and knows which pitch any guy in the pros will throw before he even gets into his windup. Yager is on the verge of being replaced by a younger player, and his sole shot at staying on the Yankees’ roster is by going four-for-four in his next game. If Jalen can help him out from the stands, Yager will pay his travel team fees. The manager of the Yankees, however, has an entirely different agenda. Green is a prolific sports fiction writer, and having Jeter’s name grace the cover will keep this book in demand. Green does a nice job incorporating diverse characters throughout the narrative. Despite a predictable story, this title is sure to circulate. VERDICT Bound to be popular among Green fans and sports fiction middle grade readers.–Carli Sauer, Carmel Middle School, IN

School Library Journal, February 2017


Author: Tim Green
Author: Derek Jeter
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Category: Fiction

Hooking up with a renowned shortstop-turned-publisher, Green shows that the premise of his Football Genius (2007) plays just as well in another sport. It’s not a straight remake, but Green does recycle select plot elements and character types along with said premise. Hot to play for the local 13-and-under Rockets despite its starting pitcher, who is both a bully and the favored son of the team’s brutal coach, Jalen steals a bag of autographed baseballs from aging Yankees’ superstar James Yager to peddle for the requisite $990. Caught, he escapes punishment by claiming so insistently that he can predict pitches that the skeptical but slumping Yager brings him to Yankee Stadium for a tryout. Jalen does have a gift, though it turns out to be a fitful one. Green’s biracial protagonist (white and black) leads a cast that includes a struggling single dad who speaks in a cheesy Italian accent (“I take-a you shoes off….You close-a the eyes”), a standard-issue spunky-girl pal, and an admixture of actual sports personalities and athletes—including the likewise biracial Jeter, who claims his shared title-page credit by offering encouraging platitudes in a gratuitous cameo. The tale offers plenty of sports action as it scrambles from base to base past sudden obstacles and personal challenges. A bunt at best, but Green’s a good enough storyteller to keep readers in the game. (Fiction. 10-13)

Fiona Simpson
Editorial Director, Aladdin
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

5 things to know about the Falcons on Tuesday Nov.29

Here are five things to know about the Falcons on Tuesday:

1. Injury report. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn suffered a knee injury against the Cardinals and there is an ESPN tweet/report, which cites unknown “sources” that he’ll be out for a month. Falcons coach Dan Quinn will give an official injury report from the team today or Wednesday.

2. Power rankings. The power rankings are out. How high are the Falcons?

3. Defense has been hit by injuries. There’s nothing positive about the Falcons losing Desmond Trufant to season-ending surgery or the news that defensive end Adrian Clayborn reportedly also is set for a procedure. The defense has been vulnerable to big pass plays and now the Falcons will make their final push for the playoffs without their best cornerback and a key pass rusher.

4. NFL is soft, but headed in right direction. We talked to several former NFL and Falcons players including Buddy Curry, Bobby Butler, Jeff Bostic, Kevin Butler, Scott Woerner and Chuck Smith. They shared their views on the league from the slow pace of the games to the crack down on celebrations.

5. Falcons and bestselling author Tim Green team up for Play60/Read 20 event. (I’d personally flip this to Play20/Read 60). The Falcons and the NFL have advocated 60 minutes of activity a day for kids across America to promote physical fitness. Now, the team is adding character building and education to that message. For the second year in a row, the Falcons are teaming up with NFL veteran and NY Times Bestselling author Tim Green for a PLAY60/READ20 event on Tuesday, November 29 at Lake Windward Elementary School in Alpharetta.

D. Orlando Ledbetter
November 29, 2016

CNFL hosts Play 60/Read 20 in Frisco

Sylvia Kim skim@starlocalmedia.com


The National Football League recently hosted its second annual Play 60/Read 20 event.

Taking place in Frisco for the first time, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr led football drills to help promote an active lifestyle, and former NFL player Tim Green finished the event by reading from his latest novel to encourage reading and the importance of education.

The dual event worked to foster two assets for elementary-age students: physical activity and activity of the mind through reading. For 60 minutes, Carr and area youth took over the plaza in front of the Frisco Public Library on Monday.

Participants were split up into teams and rotated through different stations and activities.

“I was a big fan of the event with its added component of reading and literacy and stressing the importance of just being active with healthy lifestyle choices,” Carr said. “Lots of athletes use their platform for fitness, but I think it’s important to use our platform to stress the importance of education as well.

“Showing that it’s actually cool to read books and care about your education and future is how I hope to use my platform in a positive way.”

The event was Carr’s and Green’s second time participating in conjunction with the Dallas Cowboys. Last year, the Play 60/Read 20 took place in Dallas ISD. But with the Dallas Cowboys relocating their world headquarters to Frisco, the event also moved locations.

Prior to the creation of Play 60/Read 20, the Dallas Cowboys held a Junior Training Camp schools program that only featured the 60 minutes of play. But Green, a former NFL lineman and best-selling author, approached the Cowboys to help form the reading portion.

“I’ve visited over 1,000 schools all over the country in the last 11 years since I started writing middle-grade novels,” Green said. “There’s a consistent theme I’ve found of teachers trying to get their kids to read 20 minutes a day. Kids who do that perform better in school and are also more empathetic towards other people.”

After the 60 minutes of play, Green led students and families into the Frisco City Council Chambers at City Hall, where he read from his latest middle school novel “Left Out,” a story about a deaf student who finds his identity through football.

Play 60/Read 20 isn’t exclusive to the Dallas Cowboys. Last year, the New York Giants, Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons also held the event. The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos took part in the program this year.


Chicago Bear, author visit Skokie to get kids moving and reading

`Chicago Bears long snapper Patrick Scales recently wound up spending his one day off a week hiking footballs – only this time, into the waiting hands of students at Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies in Skokie.

“This is what I do every Sunday,” Scales told the group of kids gathered around him to participate in the event, part of the NFL’s “Play 60,” a youth health and fitness campaign.

According to the Bears, “‘Play 60’ focuses on making the next generation of kids the most active and healthy by encouraging them to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.”

“Play 60” at Bessie Rhodes also included “Read 20,” which encourages children to read for 20 minutes a day. That message was delivered by author and former NFL player Tim Green, who spoke inside the school auditorium.

Bessie Rhodes was first asked whether it wanted to participate in “Play 60/Read 20” through an independent bookstore in Naperville, said school library media specialist Tracy Hubbard. Adding the reading component to the program was especially important, she said.

“Not every kid is convinced that reading is the best thing for them,” Hubbard said. “Some of those kids might be more oriented toward sports.”

Bessie Rhodes began its special day with Scales overseeing a long snapping station while school faculty members engaged students in football-related physical activities at other stations.

Scales said whenever he and other players attend “Play 60” events, students respond well.

“They love it,” he said. “They look up to any professional athlete, and they see us on TV and they think it’s really great. It’s fun to put smiles on their faces.”

The long snapper said he volunteers for the events because he wants to see students “get a better grasp on how they can help themselves physically as well as nutritionally.”
Chicago Bear, author visit Skokie to get kids moving and reading

Chicago Bears long snapper Patrick Scales and author and former NFL player Tim Green recently visited the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies in Skokie to promote physical fitness and reading.

But he said he also likes the idea of adding the importance of reading to the message.

“Hopefully, they’ll realize their mind is a very powerful tool, and reading is a great way to sharpen that tool and make them a better person,” he said.

Green said he wrote more than a dozen books for adults before beginning a series of novels for young readers set in the world of sports. He said he approached the NFL and some football teams about adding a reading component to “Play 60.”

“I love writing books for kids,” he told the students. “I learned that kids who read 20 minutes a day get smarter. I call reading weightlifting for your brain.”

Green said just as no one would dream of trying to make it to the NFL without lifting weights, the same should apply to reading.

“All it takes to become a reader and understand that books can be awesome is one book,” Green said. “One. But it’s got to be the right book.”

At Bessie Rhodes, he and Scales read three chapters from his latest work for kids, a novel called “Left Out.” It tells the story of a deaf child who has always wanted to be like everybody else but has faced obstacles all of his life.

The Bessie Rhodes students also each received a free copy of the book.

Hubbard said the day’s event was about imparting to students that everyone needs reading and exercise in their lives.

“Reading is fun. Exercise is fun,” she said. “Whether you’re an NFL player or whether you’re going to be a CEO of a bank, all of these things will help you have a much richer life.”


Twitter: @SKReview_Mike
Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune

NFL Chicago Bears Patrick Scales