Two Little Leaguers with big imaginations play ball in this fable imbued with the enduring magic of America’s pastime.
Jack and Joe are just a couple of New Jersey kids knocking around a baseball, when Joe decides he’s going to hit the ball over the sandlot fence and onto a moving freight train bound for the West Coast. The remarkable feat would be so fantastic that it’d not only break Hall of Famer Ted Williams’ record for the longest home run ever hit, it would also earn the tiny slugger a spot in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. When it finally happens, the boys’ friends and family are struck with awe and inspiration. Visions of Joe Seaver’s home run ball riding the rails across America also stir some real feelings of patriotism. Told entirely through Jack’s point of view, the story successfully conveys the wonder inherent in childhood. Jack’s biggest problem is trying to convince a reluctant Joe to join his Little League team so that together they can defeat the dreaded Bruisers. But the simple, declarative sentences and boldface observations belie the profound issues of poverty and class that lie beneath the surface of youth. The adult characters listening to the tale of Joe’s miraculous home run can’t help but be enchanted, even if they doubt the accomplishment. Jack’s father, for instance, has an aha moment after hearing of Joe’s exploits, which helps him solve a baffling problem at work, while another man, unknown to the boys, is compelled to reconnect with a long-lost cousin. The undeveloped denouement strikes out, but the story still wins.
A charming bit of preteen innocence.