Screaming at the Ump

Posted on Jun 4, 2016 in BR Library

9780544439375By Audrey Vernick
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 272
Age Range: 10 – 14 Years

Twelve-year-old Casey Snowden knows everything about being an umpire. His dad and grandfather run a New Jersey umpire school, Behind the Plate, and Casey lives and breathes baseball. Casey’s dream, however, is to be a reporter—objective, impartial, and fair, just like an ump. But when he stumbles upon a sensational story involving a former major league player in exile, he finds that the ethics of publishing it are cloudy at best. This emotionally charged coming-of-age novel about baseball, divorce, friendship, love, and compassion challenges its readers to consider all the angles before calling that strike.


“Casey is a sixth grader who wants a life bordered by clear rules, just like a baseball game, but lives in one bordered by different shades of gray. Living at home with his dad, Casey is estranged from his mother and refuses to have anything to do with her. Casey’s father runs a baseball umpire training school in their New Jersey hometown, which admittedly is a good one but still the third best of three such national programs. Casey loves his dad, baseball, and being part of the umpire school. But now, as he begins middle school, Casey faces some very real transitions in his life, and none of them seem be governed by clear rules. Then, Casey and his friend Zeke make a discovery. One of the new students at the umpire school might be a disgraced former major league player accused of being at the core of the steroids scandal that has swept through Casey’s favorite sport. Couple this potential discovery with changing ground rules in his family, Zeke’s constant odd video projects, family pressures, and frustrations at school and you have a recipe for disaster in Casey’s life. However, in facing each of these situations Casey discovers a great deal about life, himself, and the grayness that keeps people from seeing everything as black or white. Screaming at the Ump is a thoughtful book that handles themes such as divorce, disillusionment, false certainty, forgiveness, and resilience in ways that will cause readers to give pause and reflect. Vernick’s book also will entertain while simultaneously causing the readers to feel the growing pains of the characters.”
Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck; Ages 12 up.
Children’s Literature