Baseball Great

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Josh feels like he's starting to make it big! Jaden, the school reporter, says he's going to take the baseball team to number one. Then his dad pulls him off the field and signs him up with Coach Rocky Valentine's youth championship team, the Titans. He says Josh has what it takes to be a baseball great—and the Titans will help him get there.

Now Josh is gulping down Rocky's "Super Stax" milkshakes to build muscle and trying to fit in with his new teammates—older, tougher kids who can suddenly become violent. All Josh really wants to do is play ball, but as he gets in deeper with the Titans, there are questions he's just got to ask. As Josh and his new friend Jaden investigate their suspicions, they find themselves in a dangerous struggle with a desperate man who doesn't want them to expose the nasty secrets they uncover.

Pulsing with action, baseball great offers a baseball story attuned to today's headlines, a totally involving, character-driven, sports-centered thriller.

Curriculet Details
108 Questions
95 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 5th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining literary devices, comprehension strategies and grammar. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about imagery and author's purpose. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of theme, citing textual evidence, and diction. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter One

We are immediately introduced to Josh, the protagonist (main character), when the story begins. We learn that Josh's talent is causing him a problem. Keep reading to find out what his talent is and why he is in trouble with the high school kid. 
Why does Josh make the headline of the school newspaper? 

Chapter Two

The highlighted text is an example of a _______________. 
Why is Bart upset with Josh? 

Chapter Three

Personification gives a thing, idea, or animal human qualities. (This annotation contains a video)
Why do you think Josh's stomach gets in a knot when he sees his father's car in the garage? What does this suggest about his father? 
Why does Josh not want to move again? Cite textual evidence to support your answer. 

Chapter Four

The highlighted text is an example of a ____________________. 
Josh's father is waiting on a call to find out if he ___________________________. 

Chapter Five

By the way Josh's father acts, we can infer that he is ___________________. 
Simile: A simile compares two distinct objects, drawing similarity between them using "like" or "as." Here, the entrance to the stadium is compared to the tower of a fortress giving the impression that the entrance is large. 
What does the term "translates" mean in baseball? 
Josh's dad's large hands are compared to _____________. 
How does Josh's father feel at this point? 
Watch the video to learn why an author uses imagery. (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter Six

For lunch, Josh eats four sandwiches, an apple, pretzels, and drinks four milks. Why does Josh eat so much food? 
As the story continues, pay attention to the difference in Josh's and Benji's personalities. 
Cite textual evidence to describe Jaden. 

Chapter Seven

Again, the author uses imagery to help paint a picture in your mind.  
Josh's gift is reaction time. What does that mean? 
In what way is Josh relieved that his dad's baseball career is over? 
Why does Josh think it is possible that he may NOT make the team?  
How does Josh feel when Coach Miller says Josh is a little young to be a "baseball great?" 

Chapter Eight

What kind of personality does Benji have?  
This detail reveals that Josh is a good ________________. 
What is the problem here? How do you think Josh feels about what his father says? 

Chapter Nine

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which two unlike things are shown to have a type of resemblance.  
What is the difference between Josh and his father? Cite textual evidence to support your answer. 
Based on the details about Rocky Valentine, we can infer that he is a ______________ person. 
Which of the following businesses is NOT one that Rocky Valentine owns? 
Why do the players keep their heads held high? What do you think Coach Valentine would say if they didn't hold their head up? 
What is the purpose for Josh and his father to meet with Rocky Valentine? 

Chapter Ten

The highlighted text is an example of a ______________. 
What is meant by "a shortstop needs a cannon for an arm?" 
The highlighted text is an example of a ________________. 
Remember, Josh's gift is reaction time. So he knows when to hit the ball. He also knows how to hit the ball to make it go where he wants it to go in the field. 
Based on the details in the highlighted text, we can infer that Josh is a good _______________. 
The expression "thought better of it" means "to know better." Here, Josh wanted to say something to the boy but he knew it was better to keep quiet. 
Based on this detail, we can infer that ___________________. 
What does Rocky mean by "there's no I in team?" 
A collective noun is a word for a group of specific items, animals or people. Look at some of the other examples on the poster. (This annotation contains an image)
Do you think this is the reason the other boys on the team gave Josh dirty looks? Could they be afraid they will be kicked off the team? 

Chapter Eleven

Why is Rocky's Wall of Fame his favorite? 
Identify the simile in this sentence. 
Does it seem that Josh's dad wants him to have a better baseball career than he has had? Notice how he is willing to give Josh opportunities for training and playing with older boys because he didn't have those opportunities when he was a kid. 
What does Josh's father mean by this statement?  
Why is Josh's father pushing him into this? Do you think Josh would be happier playing on his school team rather than for Rocky Valentine? 

Chapter Twelve

Why does Benji eat with Josh's family often? Cite textual evidence to support your answer. 
Disconcerting means tending to cause discomfort, uneasiness or alarm; unsettling; troubling; upsetting. Josh is troubled by how quickly Jaden is getting involved in his life. 
Based on the details in the highlighted text, we can infer that Jaden _______________. 
What is the effect of Josh drinking the milk that "tasted like rotten bananas and cough medicine?" 
Here is another example of how Jaden exhibits good manners. 

Chapter Thirteen

Denotation and Connotation: Denotation refers to the literal meaning of a word, or the "dictionary definition." For example, if you look up the word "icy" in the dictionary it means 'pertaining to, resembling, or abounding in ice; cold; frosty.' Connotation refers to the associations that are connected to a certain word or the emotional suggestions related to that word. When Josh's mom gives him an "icy glare," we sense that she gave him a cold look because she does not like something he says. He immediately changes his tone because he understands what her icy glare means as well. 
The highlighted text is an example of a _________________. 
What is Super Stax? 

Chapter Fourteen

A hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration of actions and ideas for the sake of emphasis. Here, Josh's insides do not literally melt. The hyperbole is used to show us that he is afraid. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Jaden lie about her father being a cop? 
What does Jaden mean when she says "and we both know that's bologna?" 
Benji leaves the scene when Bart confronts Josh and wants to fight. The author uses a simile to compare the way he leaves to a cockroach. What does "lit out like a cockroach" mean? 
Although Josh tries to defend Benji's reason for leaving by saying he probably went to get help. Jaden says that she does not hear "calvary bugles" meaning that she does not believe help is on the way. 
This is an important detail to remember. This begins to raise some suspicion within Josh about things that he will later discover. 
Below is a picture of a Black Porsche similar to the one Coach Valentine owns.  (This annotation contains an image)
How does Josh know who this car belongs to? 

Chapter Fifteen

The author uses imagery to create the atmosphere of the weight room. 
What do you think this means? 
What is the purpose of failure plus two? 
The highlighted text is an example of a __________________. 
How does Josh "push through the pain" during this practice? Cite textual evidence to support your answer. 

Chapter Sixteen

Notice how some of the players treat Josh. Based on what we know of Josh so far, do you think he would ever treat one of his teammates this way? 
Onomatopoeia is defined as a word that imitates, or copies, the natural sound of a thing. It is a sound effect. The "crack" of the bat is the sound a bat makes when a batter hits a ball. 
The boys on the team play a prank on Josh. What is their motive for doing this? 
Why do you think Josh thought of Jaden and Bart Wilson? Why did he grab Perkins this way? 
The highlighted text is an example of a ___________________. 

Chapter Seventeen

Josh's dad seems to be adjusting well to his new position with Mount Olympus Sports. Why is he well-suited for this position? 
What does this detail reveal about Josh? 
Why does Josh want to tell his father about seeing Rocky Valentine's car at the hospital? Do you think Josh is suspicious of Rocky Valentine or is he concerned that something may be wrong with him? 
Octagonal means 'shaped like an octagon, having eight sides and eight angles.' 
Anti- is a prefix which means "against." Inflammatory comes from the word "inflammation." Therefore, anti-inflammatory means "against inflammation." Anti-inflammatory drugs help to relieve inflammation in the body. Understanding the meanings of prefixes and root words is important for understanding what words mean. 

Chapter Eighteen

What kind of project are Josh, Jaden, and Benji working on at Josh's house? 
What does Benji mean by saying Josh is a real bore? What is the reason Josh says he has to go to bed? 
Why does Josh think he may not be able to stay on the team? 

Chapter Nineteen

A placebo is a "dummy" medicine which contains no active ingredients. 
What does this reveal about Benji's character? Would you say he has a lot of confidence in himself? Explain your answer. 
A behemoth is a great and mighty monster. Why does the author use this word to describe Josh? We can infer that Josh is big for his age since we know he is as big as most of the boys on the Titans baseball team. We can also infer that Benji is smaller than Josh. 
Why does Josh feel like he is entitled to make the team? 
Make Connections: As Josh lays in his bed trying to sleep, thinking about what his dad said and that he may not make the team, he feels like everything is closing in on him. Have you ever felt this way? 

Chapter Twenty

Why does Josh look for Jaden at lunch? 
Jaden is upset because she learns that Josh's dad has recruited Kerry Eschelman to play for Rocky Valentine's U12 team. What effect does she think this is going to have on the school baseball team? 
Quiz 1 

Chapter Twenty-One

How does Josh feel about his argument with Jaden? 
What causes Josh to hang his head on the way to his next class? What can you infer about the way he feels right now? 

Chapter Twenty-Two

How does Mr. LeBlanc try to justify Josh's accusations of ruining Grant Middle School's team by recruiting Echelman? 
What does this detail suggest about how well Rocky Valentine knows the business world? 
How do you think Josh feels right now? Use textual evidence to support your answer. 

Chapter Twenty-Three

Make Connections: How do you think Josh feels knowing his dad is proud of him?  
What is Josh's dad's advice on how to deal with the rest of the team?  

Chapter Twenty-Four

A metaphor is used here to compare the Yankees Stadium to a giant, sparkling treasure. 

Chapter Twenty-Five

The "freckles on his cheeks and nose danced in a red soup of anger" is an example of ____________________. 
A ___________ is used to describe how quietly Rocky sat in his booth. 
The highlighted text is an example of __________________. 
Do you think Josh expected his father to be at the tournament? 
A debut is defined as a performer's first- time performance to the public. 
A simile is used to compare Rocky's glittery eyes to black beetle wings. 
What are some things Rocky says the team can NOT do during this game? 

Chapter Twenty-Six

Do you remember what kind of noun this is? That's right! This is a collective noun. 
Can you identify the referent pronoun in the highlighted text? If you said "it," then you are correct. "It" refers back to the eggs and half of the Danish. 
The highlighted text is an example of ____________________. 
Do you think Josh will swing big or follow his coach's direction? Keep reading to find out. 

Chapter Twenty-Seven

What do you think Rocky said to Josh's father? 
Do you think Josh is glad his dad is at the tournament? How might his being there help Josh do better?  
The highlighted text is an example of a ______________. 

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Josh is on his way to first, yet very aware of where the ball is on the field. 

Chapter Twenty-Nine

How does Josh feel about winning the tournament? 
The simile compares his sister's wail to a car alarm. This lets us know that her wail was loud. 
What does this detail reveal about Josh's feelings toward Jaden? 
How does Benji's dad saying that Josh is "on his way" make him feel? Why does it carry weight with him? 

Chapter Thirty

Why does Benji react this way when Shelia says "Hi" to Josh? 
In this sentence, the word "they" is a referent pronoun, referring back to Sheila's eyes. The sentence also contains a simile comparing the way her eyes reflect light to the same way jewels do. 

Chapter Thirty-One

Why does Josh say he is not going out with Sheila? 
Watch the video below on similes and metaphors. Can you identify the simile and metaphor found in the highlighted text? (This annotation contains a video)
Onomatopoeia: A sound effect word. 

Chapter Thirty-Two

What were the Titans' practices like after they won the championship on Long Island? Cite textual evidence to support your answer. 
How does Josh feel about Sheila sitting next to him at lunch? 
What did Josh and his teammates do at the laser tag place? 
When you read this part, did you predict that Bart Wilson was in the bathroom and may cause Josh trouble? What do you think Josh will do about Bart Wilson? 

Chapter Thirty-Three

What warning does Jones give Bart regarding Josh? 
How do you think Josh feels knowing that Jones has his back?  
Name two words on this page that are examples of onomatopoeia (sound effect words). 

Chapter Thirty-Four

Why does Coach Valentine not want his players fighting? 
What do you think "gym candy" is? 
Why does Tucker not want Josh to mention anything to his parents about meeting him in the park or "gym candy?" 

Chapter Thirty-Five

Will the rain interfere with Josh's plan to meet Tucker at the park? Keep reading to find out. 
What does this detail suggest about Josh? 
How might Josh do whatever it takes, even if it is something unhealthy or not safe, in order to be the best? 

Chapter Thirty-Six

This sentence contains an example of a ________________. 
Does Josh understand what Tucker means by "destiny?" 
What does Tucker promise Josh that "gym candy" will do for him? Cite textual evidence to support your answer. 

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Whose house is Josh trying to find on the corner of Carbon Street? 
The author uses imagery to help us feel like we are looking through the curtains with Josh. 

Chapter Thirty-Eight

What do you think Josh wants to tell Jaden? 
Why is Jaden acting this way toward Josh? Could she still be mad at him? 

Chapter Thirty-Nine

What information does Josh share with Jaden? 
Jaden seems happy to hear that Josh is not 'going out' with Sheila. 
The term "gym candy" is also known as ________________. 
Josh has some suspicion and is trying to piece together the pieces of this mystery. He thinks there may be a connection between the "gym candy" and Rocky Valentine being at the hospital. 

Chapter Forty

Which is the simile in the highlighted text? 
Josh does not want to get the police involved. Could this be more dangerous for Josh and Jaden without police involvement? Do you think they should go to the police and let them handle it? 
Jaden will look through the Physicians' Desk Reference to _______________________. 
Quiz 2 

Chapter Forty-One

Josh feels like they are caught. He quickly comes up with an excuse for needing the pill reference book that belongs to Jaden's dad. 
Why does Josh not want his mom to help him with his coat? 
The use of the simile helps the reader "hear" the cellphone vibrating on the toilet. 
Make Connections: Benji has a comical side to his personality. Do you know someone like this? 
Why does Benji refer to Sheila as the "goddess of Grant Middle?" 
What comparison is made with the simile in this sentence? 

Chapter Forty-Two

Click on the link to learn more about anabolic steroids. (This annotation contains a link)
Read the highlighted text and then answer the question. Why do you think Josh dreamed this dream? 
Based on Josh's actions, what can you infer about his character?  

Chapter Forty-Three

Why is Benji outraged with Josh? 
Josh doesn't believe his father is dealing steroids. How do you think Josh will feel if he finds out that his father is in on this deal with Rocky? 
In your own words, explain a "sting." 

Chapter Forty-Four

Josh is fishing for details. He is trying to get some inside information about Coach Valentine and the Nike deal. 
How does Josh's dad feel about his job at Mount Olympus Sports? 
"Wipe that grin off your face" is a common English expression. It is usually said in a tone of criticism.  

Chapter Forty-Five

Why does Josh's dad tell him to take the Super Stax? 
What is meant by "the shadows had a bite to them?" 
Based on the comparison in the highlighted text, the number of pro players who use steroids is much smaller than the number of high school students who use them. 

Chapter Forty-Six

Why does Jaden think they have a good chance of catching Coach Valentine tonight? 
Create mental pictures: As you read, visualize what is happening in the story. 
What is the most likely reason that Rocky Valentine is at the hospital? 
When you read this, did you know that the man Josh saw was Rocky Valentine? 

Chapter Forty-Seven

Do you think a doctor is supplying Rocky with the steroids? Or maybe someone who works in the hospital pharmacy? 
Why does Jaden only have one shot at getting a picture of Rocky? 

Chapter Forty-Eight

The highlighted text is an example of a _______________. 
Josh wants Rocky to chase him instead of Jaden.  
Why do you think Jaden is crying hysterically? 
Who do you think is the person in the picture giving steroids to Rocky? 

Chapter Forty-Nine

Did you predict that the man giving Rocky the drugs was Jaden's father, Dr. Neidermeyer? 
How does Jaden's view of her father change after realizing he is the one who is supplying Rocky with steroids? 

Chapter Fifty

Jaden is concerned that her father might sell other kinds of drugs. 
Jaden thinks everything her father does is a _______________. 

Chapter Fifty-One

Josh tries to reassure Jaden that maybe her father isn't as bad as she thinks. How does what he says show he is a good guy? 
Based on the details in the text, what seems to be Josh's plan? 
Similes and Metaphors:  (This annotation contains a video)
After Jaden makes the phone call to Rocky, what is Josh worried about? 

Chapter Fifty-Two

How has Jones's attitude toward Josh changed since the tournament at Long Island?  
The highlighted text is an example of a ________________. 

Chapter Fifty-Three

What is Josh suspicious of? Why does he check his clothes before he puts them on? 
How does Josh feel after his father tells him every player has a bad day in the batting cage at some point? 
Are you putting this together? Josh didn't send the text. So, who did? Think back to the locker room. Remember Josh's open locker? Who do you think sent the text to Jaden, and why? 

Chapter Fifty-Four

Josh leaves his house _______________. 
Can you identify two literary devices used in this sentence? If you said personification and a simile you are correct. The dumpsters are given human characteristics when they "sat slumped." The simile compares them to "sleeping ogres." 

Chapter Fifty-Five

Why does Josh "feel naked" in the hallway? 
Here is another example of onomatopoeia (sound effect words.) Watch the video to learn more about onomatopoeia. (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter Fifty-Six

What regret does Josh have as he hears Rocky trying to get into the room with Jaden? 
Create mental pictures as you read. This will help you better comprehend the text. 

Chapter Fifty-Seven

Why does Benji make this gesture with his hands?  
What do you think Jaden and Josh will do? Will they tell or keep their secret? 

Chapter Fifty-Eight

Where are Josh, Jaden, and Benji in this part of the story? 
Can you imagine how Jaden feels? She wanted to do what was right but she didn't want her father to get in trouble. Do you think she wishes that she and Josh had just left the situation between her father and Rocky alone? 

Chapter Fifty-Nine

Describe Dr. Neidermeyer's involvement with Rocky Valentine and the steroids. Cite textual evidence to support your answer. 
Compare Josh's concerns with those of his dad's? Josh is more concerned that his father will be fired from his job, while his father is concerned that Josh did not take any steroids and that he is healthy. 

Chapter Sixty

The highlighted word is an example of _________________. 
What do you think this man wants to talk to Josh's dad about? 
What "deal" does Nike want to make with Josh? 
Quiz 3