MICKEY & ME

A BASEBALL CARD ADVENTURE

Joe Stoshack, known as Stosh, has a special gift. Just by holding a historic baseball card, he can travel back in time to interact with the player on that card. In previous adventures he has met Honus Wagner, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, and Shoeless Joe Jackson. This time, however, there’s a bit of a twist. His father has been severely injured in a car accident. Although barely conscious, he tells Joe that he has assured his future education by acquiring a Mickey Mantle Rookie card worth $75,000. He also suggests that much of the pain and “what ifs” regarding Mantle’s career could be eliminated if Joe could travel back to the 1951 World Series to prevent an injury that permanently affected Mantle’s knees. That’s the plan, but a last-minute card switch by Joe’s little cousin sends him to the wrong year, the wrong league, and the wrong Mickey. It is D-Day 1944 and he is in the clubhouse of the Milwaukee Chicks of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, where he meets their star catcher Mickey Maguire. What an eye opener for Joe. He sees the dedication that spurs these talented women to accept ridiculous restrictions in order to play the game they love. Forced to wear skirted uniforms that cannot protect them from painful bruises, faced with fines for failing to wear lipstick during games, they manage a level of excellence that amazes Joe, who has always believed that girls could not play baseball. He also witnesses their courage as they wait for news about loved ones fighting in the war, as well as their underlying guilt because they also know that the end of the war and the return of the men will mean an end to their baseball careers, and “back to the kitchen.” Like Gutman’s previous works (Shoeless Joe and Me, 2002, etc.) in the series, the plot is teaming with baseball action, photographs, news clippings, a strong sense of time and place filled with sharp insights, and subplots involving Joe and his own problems and emotional growth. In an afterword, elements of fact and fiction are carefully separated and some fascinating information about the AAGPBL and its players are added. A thoroughly entertaining mix of fantasy, baseball, and history. (Fiction 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-029247-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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