THROWING SMOKE by Bruce Brooks


Age Range: 10 - 12
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The cerebral Brooks (Vanishing, 1999, etc.) puts a characteristic spin on this Matt Christopher–style tale of a ragtag Little League team that gets some unexpected help. Coming off a 0-10 debut season, the Breadhurst Newts face a new spring still eager to play, even though, as infielder “E6” Marchant puts it, “up the middle we have severe limitations, and down the lines we are inconsistent but mostly pretty weak.” Having found that working alone in a local print shop eases his frustration, pitcher Whiz Cary absent-mindedly prints up a baseball card one night describing awesome made-up fireballer “Ace Jones”—who appears on the mound in the flesh at the next practice. Whiz tries it again, creating cards for power-hitting outfielder “Diane Fuller,” then infield wizards “Max and Marty Rico.” Suddenly enhanced, the Newts begin not only taking leads but also actually winning. It's far from a dream team, though, as the new players barely notice the original ones, and stroll arrogantly off the field together after each game. Whiz and his buddies discover that victory doesn't have quite the expected savor. In the end, he sends the “Gang of Four” back where it came from (wherever that is—Brooks doesn’t offer a suggestion), leaving readers to ponder the difference between winning at any cost and taking pleasure just in playing the game. Pushy parents and coaches might find food for thought here, too. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 31st, 2000
ISBN: 0-06-028972-4
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2000


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