Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Don Lemna & illustrated by Matt Collins

Age Range: 8 - 11

Pub Date: April 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8234-2313-2
Publisher: Holiday House

How is a guy supposed to live down taking a baseball to the noggin in the critical moment of an inter-town baseball game in the waning days of summer 1947?

Before flubbing the game, 11-year-old Donald was getting used to living on their farm in Station Hill, Mont. A year ago, he’d thought his life was over when his father returned from the war and dragged the family away from town, electricity and indoor plumbing (When the Sergeant Came Marching Home, 2008). Donald and his younger brother Pat have settled in thanks to baseball, a dog of confused breed, hockey and a pretty teacher. After his major baseball embarrassment, Don thinks he can win back respect by becoming a deadly archer like Errol Flynn in Robin Hood. A near-total lack of funds and his mother’s reluctance stand in his way. Don is nothing if not resourceful (well, maybe stubborn, too). Archery impresses no one, and the school bullies won’t let up. Don then hopes learning to drive and helping with harvest will do the trick; no such luck. Can Don survive angry bulls, wearing mom’s skates until Christmas and revival-tent–inspired fears of Lucifer himself? As with Lemna’s first, adult readers will have trouble not hearing the voice of Jean Shepherd in their heads as Don narrates his trials and tribulations. It's downright refreshing to see a funny book that doesn't rely on quirky characters for its gusto.

Young fans of Robert Newton Peck’s Soup titles will find much to enjoy in this funny, episodic, historical novel full of realistic characters and light family drama. (Historical fiction. 8-11)