Next book

FIELDER'S CHOICE

A debut novel with the charm of a Ring Lardner tale-the story of a backwoods boy who has a briefly notorious career as a major-leaguer before becoming a prisoner of war in Japan. Andrew Jackson ``Gooseball'' Fielder grows up in Smackover, Arkansas, with brothers Jugs and Jude. He ``lived and breathed sports from can-see to can't-see.'' Along with instances of coming-of-age in the oil patch, we see Jackson developing his ``gooseball'' in a local pipeyard with his brother Jugs-who, however, joins the Navy and, before being shipped out, marries Dixie, a woman all three brothers are sweet on. After Paw takes sick and wastes away, Jackson is discovered by the St. Louis Browns. Then, following a stint in the minors, he's brought up, in 1941, to pitch against the Yankees in a pennant-deciding game. An inveterate worrier who ``fears being the goat,'' Jackson balks home the winning run, falls apart, and joins the Army Air Corps. Later, Jugs is killed, whereupon Jude makes his move on Dixie, and Jackson-in gunnery school and helpless to interfere- eventually gets sent on a mission over downtown Tokyo. Captured, he lives through a hideous physical ordeal in a pipe before a Japanese admiral, whose son wants to play ball, rescues him for a life of relative ease until the war ends. After the war, Jackson plays ball again, but Dixie is already married, and his wartime involvement with the Admiral-as well as other incidents while he was a prisoner-cause the Army to accuse him of treason. He beats the charge, but the big leagues blacklist him; he also has a final victorious showdown with Jude, who turns out to be an abusive animal. The voice is credible, and the humor just hard-edged enough to give the story a little spin. Ball fans will enjoy it, as will devotees of southern backwoods fiction.

Pub Date: April 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-87483-172-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: August House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1991

Next book

HEART OF THE HIDE

A lengthy yet endearing treat for young sports fans.

Elementary-school teacher and former sports reporter Petrucci weaves a poignant tale of a young boy with a cleft palate, who finds respite from the harsh realities of small-town life by playing baseball.

Twelve-year-old Nicky Palmieri is the leader of the Kelsey Avenue Crew, a neighborhood sandlot baseball team. Since he was born with a cleft palate and underbite which caused hearing and speech difficulties, however, he endures ridicule from the other students at Stiles Elementary School. Nicky undergoes several operations, all unsuccessful, and the school bullies refer to him as the “Lip” or “Elephant Man.” He battles his tormentors in the lunch line and is punished by a seemingly heartless principal for telling the truth about the brawl. Upon arriving home, Nicky is reprimanded once again, by his parents, for fighting in school. He determines that telling the truth consistently gets him into trouble, and thus invents lies to protect himself. Nicky finds solace in an afterschool job at the local deli. His boss Big John is the town’s legendary tough guy–a former athletic star and war veteran, he’s the keeper of neighborhood peace. Big John and his protégé Jerry Gambardella Jr. also coach the Kelsey Avenue Crew, and when Jerry unexpectedly dies of a heart attack, Nicky and his friends are crushed. The protagonist secretly places his prized baseball glove in the coffin with Jerry, then must contrive a string of lies when asked for its whereabouts. Big John unearths Nicky’s glove and tries to teach him that lying doesn’t pay. In spite of tragic events, Nicky begins to discover the value of good friends and a loving family, and finds confidence in his athletic abilities. Short, upbeat chapters maintain a steady pace, and the theme of the novel–truth and learning–is clearly, though often didactically, presented. The characters in Heart of the Hide are fleshed out and believable, as is the dialogue, which moves at a steady pace.

A lengthy yet endearing treat for young sports fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2006

ISBN: 978-1-60528-008-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

Next book

TRAPPED

Nicely executed fiction with a neatly-resolved ending that will leave readers smiling.

A short, empathetic novel for middle-schoolers that addresses learning disabilities and bullying.

Retired teacher Spurr’s prior experience with learning-disabled children shines as she compassionately illustrates the world of Jamie Parker and the way dyslexia affects his everyday life. Jamie’s learned much from his fisherman father (who isn’t a great reader but has a wealth of practical knowledge about nature), but still doesn’t understand why his dad is so adamant that Jamie focus on schoolwork. School is difficult for Jamie–dyslexia not only makes coursework a challenge, but he is subjected to the bullying of Ray Quinn. He would far rather spend the day on his dad’s boat than in the classroom. Jamie’s first year of middle school promises to be the same as all the others–special reading classes, abuse from Ray and stress headaches–with the exception of finding a friend in newcomer Oscar. Over the course of several months, Jamie grows as he experiences success on the soccer field, collaborates on an interesting research project with Oscar and realizes the unfortunate circumstances that motivate Ray’s behavior. Oscar and Jamie have complementary skills in school and learn a great deal about Native Americans for an important social studies project, as well as learn a difficult lesson about bullying when their project disappears, leaving them with the threat of failing their class. When Jamie’s dog Mac has an accident, Ray plays a pivotal role, and because of this new bond, the relationship among the three boys is transformed. The book contains age-appropriate vocabulary and natural dialogue, with likable characters that help flesh out the absorbing plot. Readers learn about human behavior as the book opens topics–including disabilities, families and the local environment–for further discussion.

Nicely executed fiction with a neatly-resolved ending that will leave readers smiling.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-595-43915-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2010

Close Quickview