FROM MARIA SALVADORE
PBS Reading Rockets
Is a "perfect game" possible? Rarely. Can a boy who is striving to pitch a no-hit, no walks, batters-up-batters-down game learn anything from a Special Olympics Unified Sports team? You bet.
And so can I from reading a new novel by Fred Bowen. In Perfect Game (Peachtree), Isaac has to rethink his idea of perfection when he works with a group of kids and one boy in particular.
It's a baseball story for sure, with a fast-paced plot. But more. In an era where differences often lead to misunderstandings, it's a timely book, too. It's harder to dislike other people when you get to know them, when there's a chance to walk the proverbial mile in another's shoes.
This book is the kind of vicarious experience for both typical and special kids (I'd say 8 or 9 years old, though older kids will find something, too). It's an ideal book for adults and children to share. It may lead to some thoughtful discussion about what's important, how other people feel — and, of course, baseball. After all, it is the season!
FROM BROOKS SPENCER
Teacher of the Year
Greater Washington Reading Council
Once again Bowen has delivered a must read for upper elementary and middle school. Students saw this on my desk before I read it and I had to get in the back of the line and wait my turn!
I like this one for several reasons. First, I always learn a lot of stuff from Bowen's books. This time it was about the fragile X syndrome, the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign and stats about a perfect game. Woven into this interesting baseball story, Bowen brings likeable, believeable characters dealing with real adolescent problems and accomplishments.
You might look at it and think it's a "boy" book, but there is always a strong female character to give the story balance. Sports book, yes, but so much more.
I highly recommend this book to parents looking for books to hook their kids, teachers who want a good solid read and students who want a good story. I always look forward to "The Real Story" at the end of Bowen's books. The pairing of fiction and nonfiction makes the book even more of a treat.
FROM SHARRON McELMEEL
Author of many books
on children's literature
[Perfect Game] will intrigue those who love sports stories — and even though many will view this as a "boy" book there is a strong female character that serves to balance the gender issue; and while Bowen's books do attract male readers, female readers enjoy his books equally. The "Real Story," a chapter always appended at the end of the book, gives readers a non-fiction tie to the information weaved into the story.
FROM EDIE CHING
Children's Literature Expert
Review posted on GoodReads.com
5 stars (out of 5)
An important look at what makes a "perfect" game in the eyes of a very competitive pitcher with a demanding and perfectionist dad. Isaac really wants to pitch a perfect game and is so driven that he forgets that it is a team win that counts but his wise coach gets him involved with a very unique group of players, part of a Special Olympics United Sports basketball team and he learns from them the value of sticking with the game and making your best effort. There are some important insights here, nicely encased in a story about a very likable boy.
FROM KAREN YINGLING
Middle School Teacher Librarian
and blogger of kids's books
5 (out of 5) stars: Overall rating
5 (out of 5)stars: Plot/Characters/Writing Style
As with all of Fred Bowen's books, this had lots of details about games and tables ...that my readers love. Interwoven with this is the more serious topic of Isaac's unrealistic drive and his slow acceptance of the players on the Special Olympics team. This portrayal is almost painfully realistic-- as often as teachers and parents tell children not to use the term "retard", they still do. Seeing Isaac use this term out of ignorance and then learn why it is hurtful is more helpful than all the lectures adults can deliver. Bowen also writes strong female characters, and includes helpful information at the end of the book both about historical perfect games, Fragile X syndrome, and the Special Olympics.
FROM KATHLEEN PACIOUS
Good Reading Guide
A “perfect” read for sports buffs. Fred Bowen combines likeable characters, realistic dialogue, and believable character growth with plenty of sports details, statistics, and lingo. Isaac’s personal development and understanding of the players on the Special Olympics team is impressive and rewarding.
Reviewed by Kathleen Pacious
FROM MARY QUATTLEBAUM
A combination of fast-paced action, sports savvy young characters and authentic situations makes this novel a winner. Look, too, for Bowen's weekly sports column, The Score, in the KidsPost section of the Washington Post.
FROM JORDAN SCHUBERT
Special Olympics Athlete
While this book is primarily intended for children, I recommend this book for everyone because there are just as many adults as there are kids who don’t understand the difficulties that people with intellectual disabilities go through on a day to day basis. This book can motivate people of all ages to start and/or join a Unified Sports program at their school or in their community. The lesson that this book teaches us is that while some athletes have high expectations, it’s important to step back every now and then to see athletes just having fun and not worrying whether they win or lose, but making sure they have fun.
FROM JAYNE DIXON WEBER
Support Services Coordinator
National Fragile X Foundation
Thank you Fred Bowen for including a young man with fragile X syndrome in your book. There are still many people who have never heard of the condition, and this is a great way to raise awareness. When one child in the book uses the “R” word to describe one of the students with a disability, the other children let him know that it is not okay. Mr. Bowen has a reference to the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign for more information. He also includes a description of the history and value of Special Olympics and I hope this encourages others to join as “partners.” And then there is always The Real Story behind Perfect Games in baseball. Fascinating!