Clash of the Keepers! (Mighty Mitch #3)

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Mitchell Starc (text), Philip Bunting (illus.), Catch of the Keepers! (Mighty Mitch #3), Scholastic Australia, June 2018, 144pp.,  $12.99 (pbk),  ISBN: 9781742769158

Catch of the Keepers! is the 3rd book in the Mighty Mitch series about international cricketer, Mitchell Starc, as an Under 10s cricketer.

The events of this third book centre around Mitch’s interpersonal conflict with a keen U10 wicketkeeper from New Zealand, named Marshall Spark.  Mitch and his fellow Wombats team members first meet Marshall at a cricket coaching clinic where he annoys them with his opinionated and unwanted advice and criticism. To make matters worse, he beats Starc in a wicket keeping contest. And then, to Mitch’s horror, his Dad (who is Wombats’ team coach) invites Marshall to join their team.  Predictably, the antipathy between Marshall and the other Wombats team members results in poor team performance.

But through the coach’s gentle counselling, the team members realise that tenacity and teamwork are essential to their team’s success.  Finally, the team come to accept Marshall and value his contribution.

Basic black and white line drawings that depict cricket action and the book’s characters are interspersed through the text, adding interest to the story and making the text a more manageable read for beginner readers.

Catch the Keepers! is very much about cricket, but also about friendship, teamwork and dealing with interpersonal conflict.  There is plenty of cricket action for cricket enthusiasts, and the young Starc is a relatable and inspirational role model. I am concerned though, that the abundance of cricket jargon and descriptions of game strategy would be a turnoff for kids who don’t know the game well.  A glossary of cricket terminology, provided at the back of the book, seems to me a bit tedious for a light novel but would likely be appreciated by cricket lovers.

I recommend Catch the Keepers! to young cricket enthusiasts, about 6-9 years old.

Reviewed by Barbara Swartz

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