Cover Image: A High Five for Glenn Burke

A High Five for Glenn Burke

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Member Reviews

As much as I love baseball, I wasn’t sure about a male protagonist...I’m more of a ‘girl’ reader. However, right from the beginning I was sucked in by Silas’s enthusiasm and antics, and his obsession with The Sandlot. His teacher made me think of my favorite 6th grade teacher and took me back so many years. His best friend Zoey is a robotics coder and that Is just amazing! I’ve been looking for new books to recommend to my avid sports readers and this one is it... even though it is about so so much more than sports! Way to knock it out of the door park Phil Bildner!
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What began as a book with too much baseball focus for my personal taste soontook a turn! Believable situations, interactions and choices.  Heartfelt author's note.  I think many middle schoolers will be enjoy this story and look forward to suggesting it.
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Disclaimer: I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

While choosing an invention for a class project, Silas decides to do his report on Glenn Burke, the first person to give a high five.

Silas very purposely chose Glenn Burke. Like Silas, Glenn Burke was a baseball player. Also like Silas, Glenn Burke was gay.

Silas has just figured this out for himself, and he hasn’t yet shared this with anyone. He decides to share it with his best friend Zoey, but when Zoey doesn’t respond quite as enthusiastically as Silas hoped, their friendship becomes strained.

Add to this homophobic remarks from some of his baseball teammates, and Silas feels more alone than ever before. In a moment of desperation, Silas lies to his teammates and tells him that he’s dating Zoey, and disastrous consequences follow.

Silas fears that what happened to Glenn Burke will happen to him too, and he becomes more and more withdrawn from the sport he loves and those he loves. It’ll take someone to get him out of this spiral.

A High Five for Glenn Burke is incredible. Silas is desperate for acceptance, and he seeks that out in any way that he can, even through a historical figure who died before he was born. Often times, I felt the desire to just hug Silas and tell him that things are going to eventually be okay. Bildner writes this story so well, and it’s one that everyone ages 9 and up should read.

A High Five for Glenn Burke releases on February 25, 2020.
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Silas Wade is eager to do his school report on Glenn Burke, who started the High Five handshake that is now omnipresent in our culture. He is nervous, but does a great job on his presentation, impressing his teacher. There's something about Burke, however, that he is afraid to mention; Burke was the first openly gay major league player, and Silas identifies with Burke. Silas does tell his best friend Zoey, who is very supportive, and it helps that the coaches on his baseball team have always put a quick stop to behavior and comments they think are inappropriate. For instance, they have said that no one on the Renegades can make any comments about monkeys in their chatter, because those have often been used as racists barbs against African-Americans, and they also put a stop to comments about something being "gay". This relieves Silas, but also irritates another coach, who claims this is a manifestation of politics, which have no place in coaching. The other coaches disagree, saying that they are teaching the players to be decent human beings, and the irritated coach quits. Silas wonders if it's a good idea to tell more people about his identity, given how charged so many issues still are. This is reinforced when parents start pulling kids off the team, including Silas' stretching partner, Malik. When Silas finds that even Zoey has struggled with how to treat him, Silas knows that the road ahead will be rough, but that he has a strong support network that will help him get through.

Strengths: I love books where I learn something! Who knew that the birth of the high five was so recent? Aside from that, there are a lot of good details about baseball, baseball teams and teammates, as well as school and family drama. A very well-rounded middle school story from the author of the excellent Rip and Red series. I'd love to see Mr. Bildner write more sports novels for grades 6-8.
Weaknesses: There are fewer middle grade books about boys discovering their sexuality than there are about girls for some reason, but I wish that this had not been a coming out tale, but had just introduced Silas as a baseball player who happened to be gay. Perhaps most middle grade LGBTQIA+ books are coming out stories, just because of developmental phases, though. 
What I really think: Will purchase. Baseball, and the fascinating history of the High Five and Glenn Burke alone would make this worth while, and having another LGBTQIA+ title is a bonus.
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This is an absolutely fantastic middle grade that is equally entertaining and moving. Young readers will love the humor and energy in the story as well as the baseball trivia. This book would also be an excellent mentor text for teaching empathy and acceptance. I would highly recommend this story for readers who are discovering and learning to embrace their own identity.
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