Prolific sports writer Stout starts off his new series for middle-grade readers, Good Sports, with this strong title that focuses on the careers of four trailblazing ballplayers: Hank Greenburg, Jackie Robinson, Fernando Valenzuela, and Ila Borders. Each athlete was devoted to the game of baseball, and as a result, advanced not only the rights of minorities and women but also helped to make baseball a game for everyone. Stout writes with conviction and does not sugarcoat the hateful, sometimes racially motivated comments these players endured. He highlights pivotal moments in each athlete’s life, showing that their barrier breaking did not happen in a vacuum but grew from previous experiences, such as Robinson’s distinguished military career and Borders’ childhood Little League games, during which she was heckled by her competitors’ parents. Stout’s action-packed, suspenseful descriptions of milestone games will easily draw young people’s interest, and an author’s note, sources for further reading, and career statistics for each of the players round out this well-paced book. Give this to fans of Matt Christopher, Mike Lupica, and Dan Gutman.
–Kara Dean, Booklist