Cover image for A high five for Glenn Burke
Title:
A high five for Glenn Burke
ISBN:
9780374312732
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
277 pages ; 22 cm.
Personal Subject:
Summary:
When sixth grader Silas Wade does a school presentation on former Major Leaguer Glenn Burke, it's more than just a report about the irrepressible inventor of the high five. Burke was a gay baseball player in the 1970s--and for Silas, the presentation is his own first baby step toward revealing a truth about himself he's tired of hiding. Soon he tells his best friend, Zoey, but the longer he keeps his secret from his baseball teammates, the more he suspects they know something's up--especially when he stages one big cover-up with terrible consequences.
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Summary

Summary

A heartfelt and relatable novel from Phil Bildner, weaving the real history of Los Angeles Dodger and Oakland Athletic Glenn Burke--the first professional baseball player to come out as gay--into the story of a middle-school kid learning to be himself.

When sixth grader Silas Wade does a school presentation on former Major Leaguer Glenn Burke, it's more than just a report about the irrepressible inventor of the high five. Burke was a gay baseball player in the 1970s--and for Silas, the presentation is his own first baby step toward revealing a truth about himself he's tired of hiding. Soon he tells his best friend, Zoey, but the longer he keeps his secret from his baseball teammates, the more he suspects they know something's up--especially when he stages one big cover-up with terrible consequences.

A High Five for Glenn Burke is Phil Bildner's most personal novel yet--a powerful story about the challenge of being true to yourself, especially when not everyone feels you belong on the field.


Author Notes

Phil Bildner received a B. A. in political science from Johns Hopkins University in 1990 and a J. D. from New York University School of Law in 1993. He was admitted to the bar in both New York and New Jersey and got a job as an associate at a large Manhattan law firm. After practicing law for a year, he decided to pursue a career in education. He received a master's degree in early childhood and elementary education from Long Island University in 1995. He stopped teaching in 2006 in order to write full time.

His picture books include Shoeless Joe and Black Betsy, The Shot Heard 'Round the World, Twenty-One Elephants, Turkey Bowl, The Hallelujah Flight, and The Soccer Fence. Marvelous Cornelius won the 2016 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children's Literature. His young adult novels include Playing the Field and Busted. He also co-created the Sluggers series with Loren Long.

In 2007, he began chaperoning student-volunteer trips to Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. He co-founded The NOLA Tree, a non-profit service organization.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Kirkus Review

A gay black baseball player posthumously inspires a sixth grade white boy who is ready-ish to come out.Baseball enthusiast Silas Wade opens the book by giving a colorful class presentation about Glenn Burke. Burke was a once-well-known major league player who invented the high-five and eventually left the sport after enduring isolation and harassment for being gay. Silas leaves that last part out, but heralding his hero in front of a crowd is the silent start of his own coming out. Further testing the waters, he tells his best friend, Zoey (a champion robot builder), he's gay and finds that there's a bouncy kind of freedom that comes from saying who he really is. Inspirational YouTube videos encourage Silas to come out to Coach Webb, an adult who embodies the understanding, guidance, protection, and encouragement that all queer kids should have. But when Silas gets nervous about everything changing and wants to backpedal into the closet, circumstances put him at a crossroads: continue to lie for self-preservation or live out loud like Glenn Burke wasn't able to. Silas is white, but Zoey has a Spanish surname, and his baseball teammates and one coach are black and brown. (One notable moment includes an explanation from the coaches about why monkey insults are racist.) As the narrative foundation is established, there are overt explanations of settings and characters that aren't additive, but these superfluous tendencies dissolve about 50 pages in. Insights into Silas' home life feel bittersweet and real with parents fumbling to do the best they can, but Silas' struggle is the central story. Beleaguered tolerance strikes out; loud, proud love wins the game. (Fiction. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

When Silas has to do a presentation on a famous inventor for his sixth-grade class, he chooses Glenn Burke, the baseball center fielder credited with inventing the high five. When Glenn Burke arrived in the big leagues in 1976, the Los Angeles Dodgers thought he was going to be the next Willie Mays, Silas explains, but there's one thing he doesn't share with his class, friends, or teammates: Burke was pushed out of baseball because, like Silas, he was gay. Even as he considers coming out, Silas worries about his secret being revealed. As he becomes increasingly nervous, he distances himself from baseball and, worse, tells a lie about his best friend Zoey, which causes her to stop speaking to him. Bildner's (Martina & Chrissie, 2017) latest is a middle-grade book that will have broad appeal. Young readers will relate to Silas and cheer him on as he navigates longstanding relationships that suddenly seem new and awkward. Muted problems at home, seen through Silas' eyes, encourage communication with and trust in parents. The story also speaks to the importance of creating a welcoming community whether on a baseball field or in a classroom that embraces differences with not only tolerance but also complete and unrelenting support. An essential book for all readers, not just baseball fans, about friendship, acceptance, and self-confidence.--Grace Rosean Copyright 2020 Booklist