Clarion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Twelve-year-old Casey Snowden knows everything about being an umpire. His dad and grandfather run a New Jersey umpire school, Behind the Plate, and Casey lives and breathes baseball. Casey’s dream, however, is to be a reporter—objective, impartial, and fair, just like an ump. But when he stumbles upon a sensational story involving a former major league player in exile, he finds that the ethics of publishing it are cloudy at best. This emotionally charged coming-of-age novel about baseball, divorce, friendship, love, and compassion challenges its readers to consider all the angles before calling that strike.

"Believable characters, fast-paced action, ample dialogue, Casey's first-person voice and great descriptions of Zeke's hyperactivity make this a probable home run for lots of middle-schoolers." --Booklist

"Vernick laces her tale with humor, plus credible insights into the truly difficult art and techniques of umpiring, as she leads her aspiring journalist to make some good choices in the wake of a realization that people (parents included) should have more than one chance to get their calls right." --Kirkus Reviews

"Multiple threads come together in a well-crafted way when Casey realizes the same skills an umpire needs—being objective and fair, knowing the rules, and being in the right spot to make the call—also apply to becoming a good journalist and healing his broken relationship with his mother." --Publishers Weekly  

"It’s the peek into the world of professional umpire training that carries the interest here, culminating in the fictional but tantalizing event, You Suck, Ump! Day, in which students perform under intense pressure of a local crowd recruited to heckle them on the field." --The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books