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Zombie Baseball Beatdown

Review

Zombie Baseball Beatdown

Rabi loves baseball, but unfortunately, he's much better at strategy than actually knocking one out of the park. And, unfortunately, his coach doesn't appreciate the critique Rabi gives him about the batting line-up. Of course they're going to lose if the clean-up hitter can barely get on base! To make matters worse, some of the bigger teammates --- specifically Sammy and his posse --- love to make life difficult for Rabi and his friends, Miguel and Joe; even making them leave the clean baseball field to practice on the field next to the big meatpacking plant, which stinks --- both figuratively and literally.

"Baciagalupi provides the opportunity for open discussion of food safety, racism and immigration issues between adults and kids, which will hopefully lead to a greater understanding of the world today and what the next generation can do to improve for the future."

Rabi, Miguel and Joe don't know much about the meatpacking plant, other than Miguel's parents used to work there, until his father spoke up against its practices, and they were subsequently deported back to Mexico. But at least Miguel is a US citizen and he can live with his aunt and uncle, who still work at the plant. The threat of being sent away from the only life he's ever known is ever-present for Miguel, and the control the plant has over his family's life is intimidating, made worse by the fact Sammy's father is the owner of the plant. And then, while playing on the undesirable baseball field, alarms go off at the plant and workers rush out of the building. Miguel's uncle sees the three friends and sends them back home.

Something bad happened at the meatpacking plant, and Rabi is determined to find out what it is. Getting information is tough when the risk of telling the truth is high for workers. But when Rabi's baseball coach appears in the cornfields as a zombie, and the evidence of foul play at the plant is overwhelming, nothing will stop Rabi in his mission to find the truth: not a family trip to India to visit a sick relative, not the menace of a corporate lawyer and certainly not a zombie apocalypse. Will Rabi, Miguel and Joe find a way to convince their town that something foul is a foot at the meatpacking plant? Will they be able to prevent a corporation selling tainted meat to the neighboring towns?

Paolo Bacigalupi's ZOMBIE BASEBALL BEATDOWN is a book that investigates the measures a corporation will take to make money and hide their dicey practices disguised as a book about baseball and zombies. Sure, baseball bats will be swung at undead heads, but food industry and immigration issues are thoroughly discussed. What does go on in meatpacking plants? What are those large ponds of poo outside of them? And what is pink slime? These issues, raised by adult books such as EATING ANIMALS by Jonathan Safran Foer and documentaries like Food Inc., are made available to young readers in a very accessible and entertaining way. Baciagalupi provides the opportunity for open discussion of food safety, racism and immigration issues between adults and kids, which will hopefully lead to a greater understanding of the world today and what the next generation can do to improve for the future.

Reviewed by Liz Kossnar on October 16, 2013

Zombie Baseball Beatdown
by Paolo Bacigalupi

  • Publication Date: September 10, 2013
  • Genres: Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316220787
  • ISBN-13: 9780316220781