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Publisher's Note:

The #1 Bestseller! Michael Arroyo has a pitching arm that throws serious heat along with aspirations of leading his team all the way to the Little League World Series. But his firepower is nothing compared to the heat Michael faces in his day-to-day life. Newly orphaned after his father led the family’s escape from Cuba, Michael’s only family is his seventeen-yearold brother Carlos. If Social Services hears of their situation, they will be separated in the foster-care system—or worse, sent back to Cuba. Together, the boys carry on alone, dodging bills and anyone who asks too many questions. But then someone wonders how a twelve-year-old boy could possibly throw with as much power as Michael Arroyo throws. With no way to prove his age, no birth certificate, and no parent to fight for his cause, Michael’s secret world is blown wide open, and he discovers that family can come from the most unexpected sources. Perfect for any Little Leaguer with dreams of making it big--as well as fo…


by Mike Lupica

Overall Book Review:

Cuban American Michael Arroyo loves pitching for his Little League team, and he loves watching his favorite pitcher, El Grande, play for the Yankees—but only on TV. He knows they’ll never be able to afford tickets even though they live right by Yankee Stadium.  He also loves playing pickup games and wishes he knew how to talk to the pretty girl who pitches as well as he does.  But sometimes baseball seems like the only thing going right in his life.

Michael hates having to lie about his father, and he hates it that his brother, Carlos, has to work two jobs, and even then they don’t have enough money to pay their bills.

Now some of the other coaches have invoked a league rule that Michael must produce a birth certificate, and it looks like this rule will keep him from playing baseball in the Little League championships.

This is an exciting story both on and off the baseball diamond, beginning on the first page as a woman is mugged and Michael brings down the mugger by hitting him in the head with a baseball. Though the action slows in some parts, readers are likely to stay involved in Michael’s troubles at home as they gradually learn more about what happened to Michael’s father and agonize with him as he’s forced to stop playing ball just at the time his team needs him the most.

Reading Level: 6.0, range 5.4-7.6.

Of interest to boys.

This review has been acquired and adapted from

Content Analysis:

 This review was acquired from on May 15, 2014 and was not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist.  Nevertheless, it contains useful content information which is included here.  The overall number ratings have been approximated based on this information.

Woman mugged, knocked down, purse stolen, somewhat graphic; hero hits thief in head with baseball, knocks him out, later wishes he’d hit thief with bat; brother yells at hero, gets upset often; father knocks man down twice who knocked woman down, causes father’s heart attack; cocky boy throws bat, gets suspended from next game, throws pitch that hits hero in head; hero pinches friend to make him be quiet; friend just misses cocky boy with baseball, cocky boy wants to fight him.

Mature Subject Matter:


Alcohol / Drug Use:


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About the Reviewer

On May 15, 2014 Compass Book Ratings acquired Many reviews were acquired from and these reviews were not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist. Nevertheless, the reviews contain useful content information which is included.