The unlikely pairing of a young girl from Minnesota obsessed with bees and an up-and-coming baseball player from the Dominican Republic produces pure magic in Kurtis Scaletta’s latest middle grade novel.
During a family vacation to Florida, Maya’s family catches a Minnesota Twins’ baseball training camp game. One young player notices Maya’s older sister and signs her outstretched baseball. At that moment, Maya decides to become a fan of that player, Rafael Rosales, even though he has the worst statistics on the team.
Multiple storyline undulate throughout to form a coherent whole. The backstory of a young Rafael growing up in the Dominican Republic reveals how he joined the Twins; Maya’s story highlights her concern for the environment (a subplot involves Maya criticizing her father’s company for dubious environmental practices and the surprising results of that criticism); and Rafael’s career in the United States, partially followed through Maya’s sister’s baseball blog, touches upon the dark side of baseball recruiting. As punishment for taking Maya to a baseball game without permission, Maya’s sister loses her blogging privileges. When Maya gives a brief update to the blog, the blog becomes an internet sensation, and the girls become minor celebrities. Through the lens of fame, Maya and her family have to examine their principles and how far they are willing to go for their beliefs.
Rooting for Rafael Rosales hits for the cycle with its multilayered storylines, and Scaletta triumphs with a grand slam.