Baseball practice needs a flat open space,
so the city park is a great place!
But sharing the outfield with the zoo can be beastly!
Nick and his buddies love baseball, practicing whenever and wherever they can (no Little League yet in Wisconsin in 1948). They’re thrilled when the new owner of the town’s pro team promises a chance for kids to be on the field for opening day! (or is it just for boys?)
Your close encounter with unusual animals and/or minor league baseball?
Book info: The Rhino in Right Field / Susan DeKeyser. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: For the chance to be Mudpuppy batboy for day, 12-year-old Nick will do anything – work harder in Pop’s shoe repair shop, help uncle Spiro with mysterious errands – as the baseball team’s new owner plans an extravaganza for Opening Day.
That bully Pete thinks he’ll be chosen batboy, but Nick can win this contest based on essay-writing and baseball skills – if only his Pop would sign the permission slip… hmmm
He and Ace practice fielding with Penny (wow, can she throw!), hoping Nick’s baseball won’t wind up in the rhino enclosure (again).
His Greek immigrant father is sure that working hard in the family shop is Nick’s destiny, but Uncle Spiro wants to make his own way in post-World War II Wisconsin.
Where will Nick be on Opening Day – in the Mudpuppy dugout or listening on the radio in the shoe shop?
But he hadn’t considered that his radio talk-show dad would be jailed for running over the Mexican-American cop who crossed him a while back…
Or his long-gone big brother would come back to keep Braden out of foster care…
Or that he could be called as a witness in Dad’s trial…
Or having to face the cop’s nephew on the ballfield…
Go to the publisher’s website here and click on ‘Sneak Peek’ for a free pdf download of the book’s first chapters, then grab this compelling book at your local library or independent bookstore.
Prayers or promises?
Book info: Conviction / Kelly Loy Gilbert. Hyperion Teen, 2015. [author’s Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Braden was in the car when his dad ran over the cop, but the high school junior can’t imagine being called to testify in the religious talk show host’s trial or having his big brother back home 10 years after Trey left their small California town or trying to calmly pitch to the cop’s nephew in the most important game of the season.
How can Dad say he loves God and then hate people just for being different?
Why doesn’t anyone talk about Braden’s mom leaving when he was a baby?
Can Dad’s lawyer really suggest what he should say at Dad’s trial?
Convolutions of baseball practices and worried prayers and trying to ignore the media and wondering what really drove Trey away from his best friend Kevin (the pastor’s son) … as the trial and baseball playoffs loom just ahead.
With every attempt by coach Abbott to teach the unusual player names to new catcher Costello, the incoming team member’s frustration grows and grows.
Whether you love comedy, baseball, the ability of just a few bits of paint to convey intense emotion, or all of the above, put this Everybody book on your list. You can share it with a younger reader, give it to your dad (hint, hint – Father’s Day is June 16 this year), or keep it for yourself to enjoy again and again.
What other spoken-word classics would translate well to visual format?
My book talk: A baseball player asks his coach for the names of his new teammates. Despite Coach’s warning about funny names, the new catcher becomes more and more confused as the explanation goes on and on in this home run picture book presentation of Abbott and Costello’s classic comedy routine.
The infield is easy: “Who’s on first. What’s on second. I Don’t Know’s on third” says Coach, a tall bear with a calm expression. The chubby bunny catcher’s puzzled face fills a whole page, as he tries to process this information.
By the time they get to the outfield – “And the left fielder’s name?” asks the catcher. “Why” answers Coach – the bunny’s exasperation is extreme, and the procession of varied animals in pinstriped baseball shirts grows.
Fans of baseball or funny stories or wacky humor will enjoy reading “Who’s On First?” again and again, enjoying illustrator Martz’s skill at making the players indeed look like teammates while keeping their own animal characteristics intact. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
One sister is a child genius, the other a human lie detector.
Her dad is a super-sniffer and mom can out-think anyone anywhere.
Why is Natalie’s Talent so… everyday?
No wonder “hearing cats talk” is graded as class D.
Nat is trying to keep her Talent quiet, but when she spots a pink cat on video and understands his pleas for help, she can’t just sit idly by. Rufus’s person has been kidnapped right here in Chicago, and it all has something to do with the movie being filmed at her high school.
Wrigley Field and other Windy City locales used in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” are the backdrop for the friends’ madcap chase after clues by train, car, and sneakers, discussing things with cats they encounter (through Nat, of course).
Rufus and my cat Max chat a bit in my next post as they introduce my first giveaway! For your chance to win an Advance Reader Copy of Cat Girl’s Day Off, go here.
Book info: Cat Girl’s Day Off / Kimberly Pauley. Tu Books, 2012. [author’s website] [publisher site] Review copy (viewed through NetGalley) and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My Recommendation: Better to be a regular high school kid than show off her low-level Talent, thinks Natalie – until her gift for understanding cats’ speech may solve a kidnapping!
Her mom, dad, and sisters are so Talented – supersniffing, X-ray vision, truth detection, chameleon camouflage – that Nat’s talent seems worse than worthless. If the students at Shermer High treated her like that one boy in grade school who could make frogs change color by kissing them… bad news.
Her best friends Melly and Oscar know that she can talk to cats, but it’s no big deal to them. The big deal to them is the movie that will be filming scenes at their school, just as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” did – and they could be extras in the movie! Oscar is swooning over the leading man, while Melly hopes that appearing in “Freddy’s Day Off” will boost her acting career.
In a video news clip of movie blogger Easton West – all in pink, of course – and her dyed-pink dog and cat arriving in Chicago, Nat realizes that the pink cat is yowling that this person is an imposter and that Easton West has been kidnapped! West’s next blog post includes info that convinces Oscar that the person in that video is a fraud and that the pink cat must be telling the truth.
The three friends decide to rescue the pink cat and find out what’s happened to the real Easton West – as fast as they can between sitting through take after take of movie scenes at the school and Wrigley Field.
How can Nat make the authorities take this seriously, when no other humans speak Cat? Easton West’s last blog post before coming to Chicago threatened to expose one of the actresses – is this part of a plot? Will the imposter make good on her threat to kill the real Easton West? Oh, what will Nat’s cute classmate Ian think if he discovers that she talks to cats and that they talk back??
Lots of twists and turns as the friends and the cats they meet along the way chase after clues all over the Windy City, racing against the clock. One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Maybe some canned food is still hidden in that store,
Maybe they can pull some scrap iron from that bombed-out building,
Maybe the soldiers won’t capture them,
Maybe the slavers will.
Germ warfare on a global scale – China started it, but everyone was threatened by the virulent strain of flu. Only a third of the population survived that Eleventh Plague, and now living day to day is the hardest thing the survivors will ever face.
Granddad was tough on Stephen and Dad, but how else were they to survive after Mom died and the Quinns took to the salvagers’ ways? Anything not practical was useless in Granddad’s eyes, especially when they had to carry everything, so Stephen never let him see The Lord of the Rings book deep in his pack, nor the only photograph of his mother.
Is Settler’s Rest too good to be real? The school must have over a hundred books! Stephen can even play baseball, like Dad did in the pros before the war.
Yet many townspeople mock and despise Jenny, who was adopted from China years before the war began. And some still suspect Stephen and Dad of being spies, even after the teen works hard alongside the other kids.
Jeff Hirsch’s debut novel sends us along America’s deserted backroads and shattered shopping centers on this Future Friday, always watching for soldiers and slavers, always wondering if the P11 plague is truly gone.
My Recommendation: Always moving, Stephen learns survival skills from his dad and granddad as they travel through ruined America. Searching for salvage on the way to the traders’ gathering, they stay clear of the old paved roads where soldiers and slavers travel. What was it like before the Chinese bombed the USA and two-thirds of the world’s people died of the Eleventh Plague, that deadly flu? What would it be like if Mom were still alive?
A chase, an accident, a long drop – now grumpy Granddad is buried, Dad is in a coma, and Stephen must keep them safe. When a group of teens finds the pair near the river, he reluctantly accepts their offer of help for Dad. After blindfolding, the group travels a winding trail to a town – a real town, with a school and houses with unbroken glass windows! So many people in one place, mostly refugees who have built a true community in this remote gated subdivision.
Stephen can hardly believe their luck, finding an actual doctor who can treat Dad. Violet even lets them stay in Jenny’s room since her rebellious adopted Chinese daughter moved into an old barn, away from the taunts about her birthplace.
But not everyone in Settler’s Landing thinks it’s a good idea to let strangers in their gates. Some think that Stephen and Dad are spies from Fort Leonard where soldiers are in charge, others worry that they’re an advance party for the region’s ruthless slaver gangs.
For the first time in his fifteen years, Stephen can attend school and play baseball, like Dad told him about. Sure, the town’s kids have chores afterward, but they can go swimming and there’s almost always enough to eat – the adults have worked so hard to keep the town and people safe.
Jenny is always the wild card, questioning their teacher during the few times she attends school, challenging her peers to think for themselves. When one of Jenny’s pranks gets out of hand, the small community jumps to the wrong conclusion. Perhaps Stephen really is a spy, they worry.
Now Settler’s Landing finds itself divided – do they launch an attack against outsiders or stay inside their town walls to defend it? What can the town council do to keep this hard-earned fragment of civilization intact? Will they even be able to survive if the slavers or soldiers march into their hidden valley?
A future that might be true, a future that we pray never happens, the only reality that Stephen knows – this is America after The Eleventh Plague. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Yes, girls can be baseball stars! But when the men with the money and the men with the clout got involved, early 20th century dreams faded for talented women, like Jackie Mitchell who faced the great Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the 1930s – and struck them out!
Recommendation: Ruby’s pitches were straight and true, but girls weren’t allowed to play baseball in 1913. She kept practicing in secret, through the end of World War I and the Spanish influenza epidemic that ravaged her neighborhood and wiped out most of her family.
It was her pitching skills that kept her orphaned nieces alive into the 1920s, first to put squirrels into their soup pot, then as Ruby became a speed pitcher for a Coney Island sideshow. Amanda kept the speed-sensing machine working, Allie posted the pitch speed, and “Diamond Ruby” hurled pitch after pitch, seven days a week, equaling the velocity of most major league pitchers. Her extra-long arms were good for something at least.
Her amazing pitching performances drew celebrities, like Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey, as well as the attention of women’s rights activists, organized crime bosses, and a minor league baseball team that needed publicity to stay alive, but needed a great pitcher even more.
Could Ruby really earn enough money by pitching to keep her small family intact? Can she keep her new friends from harm during the raucous days of Prohibition? Can she keep on pitching accurately despite threats, violence, and blatant prejudice?
This intriguing tale of survival, grit, and amazing athletic skill, set amid the glitter and glare of the Big Apple’s speakeasies and rum-runners, is inspired by a real woman pitcher of the era. Play ball, Ruby! (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)