________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 39. . . .June 10, 2016


Tagged Out. (Sports Stories).

Joyce Grant.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2016.
123 pp., trade pbk. & ebook, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4594-1075-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4594-1076-3 (ebook).

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Elaine Fuhr.

**** /4


Gnash knew that soon he and Jock would be trapped. He stepped out of the dugout and stood at its entrance. The three boys came closer.

“Hey, Stretch, do you know what I heard?” one of the gang members asked his friends.

“No, what?” answered a lanky boy with blond curls.

“I heard that the new Blues kid likes guys!”

The lanky boy laughed. “You mean he’s gay?”

“Yep, that’s what I heard!”

Gnash could feel the blood rising in his face. He was more angry than afraid, even though it was dark and they were outnumbered. He stood in front of Jock, blocking him from the three boys.

“And you know what else I heard?” the boy asked Stretch. “That the Blues are losers! And you know who told me? Their coach!

It was a ridiculous insult, but it fueled Gnash’s anger. “Oh, yeah?” Gnash taunted back, “Well, at least we can improve at baseball-you guys are morons! That’ll never change!”

Stretch made a guttural sound in his throat and sprinted towards Gnash. All three boys closed in but Gnash had his fists up. He threw a punch at Stretch, connecting unevenly with a part of his jaw. Then he shoved his shoulder against the other two boys, kicking out with his feet at the same time.


Gnash lives with his grandparents. His grandmother is lovely, but he has seldom heard an encouraging or kind word from his grandfather. So Gnash puts his heart and soul into his baseball. Gnash and his best friends play for the Blues, a pee wee team in Toronto, but they are a hard luck team and really need some wins. Jock is a new kid from the states and a top-notch baseball player, but Gnash does not like him one bit. Gnash is nasty and rude, picking on Jock even more when his friends take Jock’s side. Then, after a fight with the new kid, Gnash finds out Jock is gay, a fact that makes everything even worse. Jock does his best to fit in, though his own attitude defeats him. Consequently, to help his new team, Jock shares his extraordinary skills. Gnash accepts Jock’s help grudgingly. While they are practicing, Gnash and Jock are attacked by bullies from a rival team. Gnash finds he has to protect Jock as well as himself from a beating. Later, after much thought, Gnash realizes that he is really no better than the bullies who attacked them. He, too, is a bully and has bullied Jock since his arrival. Gnash finds a new friend in Jock, and together they plan a successful way to get back at the bullies and beat their rival team.

     Joyce Grant, an accomplished journalist, has written her first novel with great success. Well-written and full of relevant kid friendly information, Tagged Out, is an excellent read. I especially enjoyed Grant’s description of the action during the games. Reading it made me feel like I was right there watching the game and feeling what the kids feel in success and in failure. Every ball game is a combination of both success and failure and that is what makes watching and playing fun and challenging. Grant reflects the attitudes and behaviours of today’s young teens and made each of her characters real. Middle school kids will really enjoy reading this novel.

Highly Recommended.

Elaine Fuhr, a retired Elementary and Middle School teacher, resides in Alberta.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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