Insects in the Infield by Nancy Oswald

Insects in the Infield by Nancy Oswald
 Publisher: Burro Books
Genre: Historical, Middle Grade
Length: Full Length (182 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 9+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Ants, bees, dragonflies, limping millipedes… Buster would rather ignore his brainy sister Maggie’s insect zoo, but he needs her help with the carnival fundraiser for his baseball team, the Cougars. Unfortunately, Buster needs more than fundraising help from his sister. His failing math grade is at a full count—one more strike and he won’t be able to play in the game against the three Pirate bullies: Chewy, Ace, and Rip. The town of Ashville may never be the same after these rival teams clash. Bugs and baseball don’t mix.

5th grader Buster is no fan of math but he is a huge fan of baseball and has well over 600 baseball cards. It’s the start of baseball season and Buster has a few problems to deal with. First the team needs two more players to complete the Cougars team roaster, Buster’s failing math and the biggest of all, the Cougar’s league rivalry, the Pirates, are bullies that are showing their mean side off the field.

As an adult reader, Insects in the Infield is an inspiring read for younger readers. It’s a story that children can relate to being if they are failing in a school subject, dealing with a smart younger sibling, balancing sports and school learning and also handling bullies. Its an interesting story line with lovable characters and full of humor. Insects in the Infield is Animal Planet mets ESPN; the author gives educational scientific names for the insects and also she does a good job on the baseball game play descriptions. It is also a simple, laid back novel when children didn’t have much technology and they looked forward to outside play.

I enjoyed the relationship between Buster and his younger sister Maggie. My favorite character Maggie is very smart and isn’t ashamed of it. Maggie has book smarts and is happy to help her brother with his math and it is so cute how she is so organized with teaching and is so happy to teach. She also makes the lessons interesting for Buster by showing him the relation between math and baseball. Also, I enjoyed how Buster’s friends also chipped in to help Buster pull his math grade up. This really is important and showed true friendship.

It seems it took the parents quite awhile before they realized how badly Buster was doing in math, but when the teacher brought it to their attention the parents put rules into play. As with life there are bullies, and the author didn’t shy away from building tough bullies in this novel, but the fingerprints in blood on the notes were a bit much for me.

Insects in the Infield is a book where insects have talent, and the neighborhood baseball team rivalry is a big community event. Pick up a copy of Insects in the Infield to find out if Buster is able to pull up his failing math grade and find out if the Cougar’s be able to win a victory against the Pirates.


  1. Ginger,
    Thanks so much for the excellent review. It captured the book perfectly. I never realized I had vampire tendencies quite so much as when you made the comment about the bloody fingerprints. When I was young my girlfriend and I started a club called the “Horrible 13 Club” and to be a member, you had to prick your finger and press it onto the paper to sign. You know what they say about authors writing their lives… Thanks again. Nancy

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