Rafael and Maya both have dreams – Rafael hopes to improve life for his family and Maya wants to help save the environment. Bees and baseball are an odd combination but these are the main goals for the two protagonists in Kurtis Scaletta’s middle grade novel.
Many baseball players in the United States were born in Dominican Republic and eleven-year Rafael plays street baseball every chance he gets hoping to be scouted, first for a local training camp, and then for the big leagues. Maya is the younger sister in a middle class American family and she is passionate about the environment,- currently trying to save the bees from being killed by pesticides – a product made by the company for which her Dad works.
The people in Maya’s family are avid baseball fans.
The two stories are told in alternating chapters, and they come together when Maya sees Rafael play at a Minnesota Twins game. He has the lowest ranking stats on the team and yet he continues to persevere. Maya is inspired by his tenacity, and plans her own project to support her environmental passion – a pollinating garden to attract and protect the threatened bees. Both characters face challenges in their family and community; both never give up on their goals to succeed and to make a difference.
The characters are well-developed, the text is double spaced and readable at the middle school level with themes that will appeal to Grade 4-8 readers – determination and standing up for one’s beliefs.