Batter up for any baseball-loving family.

READ REVIEW

Magic Bat Day

From the The Hometown All Stars series

A boy learns the ins and outs of batting practice in this colorful, educational children’s book.

They don’t call it America’s pastime for nothing. Baseball is one of the most popular sports for kids and adults alike, and there’s nothing wrong with starting early for basic skills and knowledge of the game. Here, young Nick is so excited for baseball practice that it’s the only thing he can think about (never mind lunch and math class). He and his teammates even wear their uniforms to school. After school, Nick meets up with his teammates—including Flo, Lucy, Carla, and others—and Coach to learn one of the most important baseball skills there is: hitting. Nick’s baseball coach guides his team of novice players with thorough explanations and a few smart tips, and soon, the kids on Nick’s team are smacking balls against a fence. They even learn about Babe Ruth, arguably the greatest slugger of all time. By the time the children end their baseball practice, they can’t wait to do it all again. Little kids (some adults too) can obsess over their favorite things, and this series is certainly best for baseball-obsessives. Author Christofora (The Hometown All-Stars, 2013, etc.) is a Little League coach himself, and his passion for the game—and for the kids he teaches—is obvious in the work. Prose is lively and engaging, not too much for a baseball-obsessed child to handle alone. Kids will delight in learning the basics, most of which they can take right into the backyard and put into practice. For grownups, Christofora also includes some coaching tips sure to jump-start any team’s practice schedule: “Put the batting station in front of a fence, so you don’t have to chase and pick up one million and one balls.” Tangeman’s fun-filled illustrations paint a glorious image of a lively day on the lush green of a baseball field, while Christofora’s constant encouragement for children to get outside and play is a wonderful notion.

Batter up for any baseball-loving family.

Pub Date: July 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9863493-1-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarens Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2015

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A quiet delight of a book.

GRANDMA GATEWOOD'S WALK

THE INSPIRING STORY OF THE WOMAN WHO SAVED THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL

A journalist’s biography of the unassuming but gutsy 67-year-old Ohio grandmother who became the first person to walk all 2,050 miles of the Appalachian Trail three times.

When Emma Gatewood (1887–1983) first decided she would hike the A.T., she told no one what she planned to do—not even her 11 children or 23 grandchildren. Instead, she quietly slipped away from her home in May 1955 and began her walk at the southern terminus of the trail in Georgia. Accomplishing this feat—which she often described as “a good lark”—was enough for her. Tampa Bay Times staff writer Montgomery tells the story of Gatewood’s first hike and those that followed, interweaving the story with the heartbreaking details of her earlier life. He suggests that this woman, who eventually came to be known as “Queen of the Forest,” was far from the eccentric others claimed she was. Instead, Montgomery posits that this celebrated hiker used long-distance walking to help her come to terms with a dark secret. At 18, Gatewood married a man she later discovered had a violent temper and an insatiable sexual appetite. Despite repeated beatings over 30 years, she remained with him until he nearly killed her. Afterward, she lived happily with her children for almost 20 years. Montgomery suggests that an article in National Geographic may have been what first inspired Gatewood to hike the trail. However, as her remarkable trek demonstrated, while the A.T. was as beautiful as the magazine claimed, it was also in sore need of maintenance. Gatewood’s exploits, which would later include walking the Oregon Trail, not only brought national attention to the state of hikers’ trails across a nation obsessed with cars and newly crisscrossed with highways; it also made Americans more aware of the joys of walking and of nature itself.

A quiet delight of a book.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61374-718-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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