Cover Image: Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters

Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters

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Member Reviews

My 7yr old son loves baseball, so I requested and was approved to read/listen to this book off of NetGalley. At nearly 4 hours long, we listened during breakfast and sometimes dinner. It made for fun family time and felt very organic and off-the-grid. 

This middle grade novel takes place in Japan. 13 yr old Satoshi is forced to readjust to life back home after spending a few years in America. He liked his time there, where he played baseball, was considered good and had friends. Transitioning to life in a small Japanese town high school proved to be a handful. At home he has to take care of his ailing grandfather who has a robot for a pet, his special needs sister and be a good son for mom while dad is away at his job in Tokyo. Soon he becomes reminded of his love of baseball and is determined to join the team. This book was great as it taught different cultures side-by-side. In Japan it’s more than just about being on the team, the respect is more important than the game. Satoshi faces hard realities and not everything is rainbows and unicorns. I especially liked that aspect with my son listening to it... we don’t always get everything we want. #LifeLessons

And speaking of listening, this audiobook is amazing for children as even in the first 30 seconds, the sound effects are on full blast. Every chair that moves across the ground, every baseball strike, you hear it. 

The pacing is perfect and nothing is too in-depth for the kids. The narrator also does a fabulous job. 

Thank you once again to the author and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen!
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Thirteen-year-old Satoshi Matsumoto is back in Japan, trying to make new friends and play baseball. We meet his parents, his elderly grandfather and his friends at school. Satoshi is typical and makes typical mistakes along the way, making him feel human. And there is baseball, and the threat that if the team doesn't impress or win something big this year, the school will give up baseball. 
Well and good. The narration is excellent, the characters are 3-D, there is excitement in the field, relationships fall apart and are mended. And then the story just...stops, It doesn't end. There is no resolution and we are left wondering if the team was able to win their place in the school for next year. And that is why it went from a 5 star to a 2 star. One of the most frustrating things for me as a reader or a listener is when there is no resolution to a story. It makes me want to wait to listen (or read) until others give their take, so I don't have to be disappointed like this. I will not listen to the next installment if there is one, since the author has not taken the time to wrap up what should have been a fairly easy dilemma.
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I love everything about this book. It deals with handicaps, elderly, different ethnic groups and coming back home after living in a different country. At this time especially in our lives I feel both children and adults should read this as everyone will gain something from it. Excellent way to blend it all in one book. I also love the sound affects. We don't always get them in audio books readings.
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Satoshi is back in Japan after living in the US and he feels like a total outcast. He's been gone a long time, he's way too good in his English class, and he worries that his disabled sister and confused grandfather will attract unwanted attention. On top of it all, there's only one spot left on the baseball team! Can he juggle his school, sports, and home life while still fitting in with his friends?

Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters paints a wonderful portrait of school-age awkwardness and the desire to fit in. This story takes place entirely in Japan, where the cultural differences between Japanese and American school systems are highlighted, especially with student-teacher relations. The culture shock goes both ways for Satoshi and his friends, making this a poignant read for children who feel like they just don't fit in anywhere.

I listened to this with my 9 year old who absolutely loved it! He did struggle to keep the names straight, but the story is fast-paced, exciting, and kid-friendly without being babyish. The story trusts that the middle-grade readers will be able to handle heavy subjects like dementia right along with things like the desire to get good grades. It struck a great balance, and we both looked forward to each listening session.

We did find that the sound effects were intrusive at times. It was a great addition, especially at the baseball games, but some sounds went on way too long and became distracting (like when Satoshi gets a haircut). We had mixed feelings about the ending, too, but overall, we loved it!

Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters is a refreshing middle-grade story about fitting in, friendship -- and of course baseball! It's a gem of a story that's perfect for any sports-loving kid.

CW: Parents, there is some mild language and 2 plot-pertinent uses of the R-word.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for providing a copy of this audiobook in exchange for my honest review.
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I have never read/listened to a novel based in Japan; never saw even a single baseball match; been a long time since I read/listened to a middle-grade work & listened to an audiobook. This one appeared to be an ideal pick to tick several of the boxes in my checklist. Let me assure you to not get tricked by the book's genre. It has its readers hooked, not only the children but grown-ups too.

For readers who have been to many nations, all would notice that it is relatable to them. Two diverse experiences of the USA & Japan are carefully blended through the perceptions of our youthful lead, Satoshi. Children sometimes see it hard to adapt to different lifestyles; like discussed in the novel, just switching in indoor or outside sandals in the schoolhouse.

Youngsters usually feel a little out of place in school, where there are previously groups set & you aren't taken into consideration as you aren't one of them. The author's study & implementation of Japanese culture into the novel was so deep. It essentially emphasizes how it feels to be a kid acclimating to a new setting & I quite liked it. This narrative teaches the importance of relationships, loyalty & teamwork.

Thank you, NetGalley, Author Suzanne Kamata for an ARC Audio copy of this book.
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Young Satoshi Matsumoto spent three years in the USA, made friends and became a great baseball player. Now, being a seventh grader he's back in Japan, he's singled out constantly by his classmates specially whenever he does anything remotely non-traditional. Satoshi's grandpa gives awkward surprises by appearing and disappearing form where he should be and his robo-pet runs out of battery. Satoshi's little sister finds a new friend in a girl that has been excluded in her own classroom. And... Well, he finds out that if the school's baseball team doesn't win a championship soon, it'll be cancelled and Satoshi will not let that happen.
This is a story of commitment, family and friendship while being able to see that what makes us different should not pull us apart.

⚠️Minor ableist language used by one of the characters⚠️

(A brief opinion will appear in a youtube vlog soon)
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A fun and relaxing story.

‘Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters’ features Satoshi Matsumoto, a young Japanese boy who has recently moved back to Japan from the United States. It does not take long for him to realize that he has become a stranger to his own home, and adjustment is not going to be easy. That is when baseball appears to relieve him from a part of his struggles. Satoshi is a talented and passionate player, and despite the troubles that keep slowing him down, he is all set to steal the glory for his school team. 

The book lets the readers catch a glimpse of what life is like in rural Japan. The beautiful cultural representation comes in a simple and smooth language, making it a suitable read for middle-graders and younger kids alike. 

The story is most likely to appeal to baseball fans and readers who are always looking forward to learning about diverse cultures and nations. There are no insane twists and turns, or crowd of events, and therefore it is ideal for anyone wishing for a light read. Apart from that, the story comes with a beautiful lesson of how unity can lead to victory. 

As a foreigner who is not quite familiar with Japan, it was difficult for me to follow the characters (especially because of the names and the suffixes). But the author is certainly not the one to be blamed here. 

Recommended for baseball fans and anyone looking for a book that is different.
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