My thanks to BooksGoSocial for a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

The Black Cat Change Up is a cute, quick and very enjoyable little children’s mystery set around baseball (though one doesn’t need to know much about the game to enjoy the book) and in this case themes of superstition and cats (the reason why I read it, in case you hadn’t guessed already :D).

Mike Walsh and Kate Hopkins are cousins visiting New York City to attend a baseball game. Kate’s mother is a sports journalist which gives them not only access to games but also back stage access where they get to meet players as well; some are already friends, involved in mysteries they’ve solved in previous books. This time the game they are getting to see is at the New York Mets Stadium, between the Mets and the Cubs. They get to the stadium after a bit of sightseeing, where they are to meet one of the players, Cookie Clifford. But almost as soon as they arrive, they learn of a ‘curse’ which had affected a baseball game between the same teams years ago, where a black cat had appeared on the field and now it seems it is back. Cat drawings with threatening messages are being left pinned around the Mets players’ locker room, and Cookie Clifford is especially terrified. Then someone delivers a cat carrier to him spooking him further. But is it only someone playing a prank, or is it something more serious? Practice and then the game begins, and the children start to look into the matter, which they have to solve fast before the players get too scared and the game ends up impacted. But alongside, they also manage to enjoy the game, some snacks and visit the Mets Hall of Fame!

The Black Cat Change Up is a book which is set in and around the world of baseball giving one a taste of games, baseball facts, and also the excitement and feel of a stadium before games (both among the audiences visiting and the players preparing for the game). We get a tour of the stadium with the different parts of the building—the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, the Mets Hall of Fame and lots more. And there is of course the game itself. But while it does pretty much immerse one in the world of baseball, I found that even for one like me who knows absolutely nothing about the game, I was able to follow along and enjoy it (even if I didn’t quite know the terms or scoring and such). So a book which can equally be enjoyed by fans and non-fans of the game alike (to me, the book’s biggest strength). For those who are more into the game, the author, a former Little League player has included a section of fun facts and trivia at the end, which adds a great touch.

The mystery itself was not baseball centric but to do with black cats and superstition and we see a bit of superstition affecting Mike as well at the start as he develops a fear of Mr Mets, the Mets’ mascot. But as things are resolved, the book also delivers the message that one shouldn’t fall into fears caused by superstition and often times, the things causing it in us, are rather likeable and not to be feared. At the same time, I liked that the children are shown as recognising that everyone has their fears, and rational or irrational, these shouldn’t be made fun of.

The mystery is a very quick one, come across and solved by the kids just over the course of the one game. One can pretty much guess early on the person that is responsible for all that’s happening (I think even the intended audiences would) but one still enjoys following along to see how the children work it out and what the outcome of the game is.

The book is full of fun little illustrations by Mark Meyers which make one’s reading experience all the more enjoyable!

A series I’d certainly be interested in exploring more of!

Edition reviewed: Kindle ARC, 89pp. Curveball Books, 2022

For a catalogue and reviews of other books with cats in them, stop by Keli Cat’s Book Corner.


5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Black Cat Change Up: Ball Park Mysteries no 19 by David A. Kelly

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