In each of the nine books in this series (one per team member), the story is told from the point of view of young boys who play on a baseball team. Each story portrays typical problems or decisions kids might face at school, home or on the field. Every individual must tackle his belief in his abilities as well as work with others on the tram. These simple books will have readers who are just beginning to read chapter books clamoring for the next book. Although the text mentions the characters in the other stories, each volume can be read out of order or even as a stand alone title. Fans of Matt Christopher sports fiction will enjoy these reissued editions. The sports related vocabulary may be difficult for some readers who are not familiar with baseball terminology and play-by-plays. Recommended
LIBRARY MEDIA CONNECTION, March/April 2010
Grade Level 3-6: There is something to learn from every Matt Christopher book and I am not talking about to play the various sports his books highlight. Christopher created well-rounded stories that included all the sports action readers crave. However, he also weaved messages throughout the plots that teach readers how to handle real life situations. Through his characters, he demonstrates problem solving and decision-making as steps to practice in order to resolve conflict. In this book, pitcher Turtleneck Jones must recover from being knocked out cold after being struct in the chest by a baseball. The story describes how difficult it is for Turtleneck to not shy away from any ball near him and how he copes with the teasing from his teammates. As simple as the message may seem, because it is woven together with play-by-plays and action that only a knowledgeable author could write, Christopher still has a legion of avid readers almost 20 years after his death. Luckily, Norwood House Press realized that and has reprinted this series.
Book Buzz, February 2010
Many times, the way boys enter the independent reading experience is through sports novels. One of the best-known kid's sports writers, this is Christopher's third short novel. As with his other books, sports is a backdrop for issues that could come up anywhere, for either sex. Turtleneck Jones takes a fast-moving ball in the chest, blacks out, and finds that fear is getting in the way of his playing. Ages 7 to 9.
Children's Literature Data Base
Turtleneck faints when the ball hits him during a baseball game. Doubting his courage and competence, he begins to play badly and considers quitting, but a self-sufficient blind neighbor urges him to confront his fears, and he decides not to give up after all. Christopher offers plenty of baseball action, along with helpful advice for readers who share Turtleneck's dilemma. Category: Fiction. Ages 5 to 9. Rating: 3: Recommended, satisfactory in style, content, and/or illustration.
Horn Book Guide, 1993
Woomph! The baseball hit Turtleneck Jones in the chest and he passes out. The physical pain is nothing compared to his embarrassment at fainting and the struggle to regain his confidence. Turtleneck succeeds in overcoming his fear and joins his teammates for the big game. Part of the "Peachtree Mudders" series. Ages 7 to 9.
Children's Literature Data Base
Eight-year-old Turtleneck Jones, first baseman for the Peach Street Mudders, is accidentally smacked in the chest by a fast-moving baseball, causing him to black out temporarily. He soon recovers physically, but his fear of being hit again makes him shy away from the ball and miss easy plays. When the coach replaces him, Turtleneck is devastated, even though he realizes the reason for the switch. Finally, he is sent in to relieve the first baseman, manages to overcome his fear, and catches a fly ball at his chest. Featuring the team from Christopher's earlier The Hit Away Kid (1988) and aimed at a slightly younger audience than Pressure Play (below), this should fill the bill for young baseball fans ready for the transition from easy readers to novels. A subplot involving Turtleneck's helping an elderly blind neighbor is also well-handled.
Booklist, August 1993