In our small, Atlanta office, you might be surprised to learn that there is a fair amount of variety when it comes to baseball fandom. Of course, we are largely dominated by (heartbroken and wistful) Braves fans, but the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants, among a few others, are also represented. As we are all painfully aware, none of our teams will be playing in this year's World Series, but we have decided to rise above for the sake of highlighting some rather wonderful baseball books. So if you've caught baseball fever in celebration of the 112th World Series, read on!
It is the summer of 1947 and a highly charged baseball season is underway in New York. Jackie Robinson is the new first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers—and the first black player in Major League Baseball. A young boy shares the excitement of Robinson's rookie season with his deaf father. Finally one day the father delivers some big news: they are going to Ebbets Field to watch Jackie play in person!
It's not fair! Thirteen-year-old Joelle Cunningham is passionate about baseball. She loves to watch it, read about it, and, most of all, play it. But when her family moves from Minneapolis to the small town of Greendale, Iowa, she quickly discovers that there are strict rules preventing her from playing on the school baseball team. Author Dori Butler has created a high-spirited, indomitable character that young girls will admire and root for in this story of frustrated ambition and ultimate triumph.
Twelve-year-old Charlie Nebraska wants two things he can't get: to make the local Wildcats Baseball team and to have life to return to the way it was before his father died two years earlier in the Korean War. Then Charlie meets Luther Peale, a former Negro Baseball League player, and the two strike up a friendship that is challenged by some of the small town's residents. This dramatic and moving story set int he days of the Negro Leagues illustrates the true meanings of friendship, prejudice, and heroism.
Jake Daley loves baseball. He loves playing for the Red Sox in the Woodside baseball league. He loves playing short stop. Most of all, he loves to win. When newcomer Adam joins the team and showcases his outstanding skills by winning game after game, Jake begins to wonder if he or the other players even matter. It's only when Jake learns of Babe Ruth and the 1927 Yankees that he realizes even the best players rely on the talent of their teammates.
Without his lucky glove, Jamie doesn't believe in his ability to lead his baseball team to victory. After losing his special glove before the season's opening game, he is disappointed in his performance with the glove he had to borrow. But with the help of a sporting goods store owner and former minor league player, Jamie learns that faith in oneself is the most important equipment for any game.
Baseball season is underway, and Coach Skelly has just quit. When Scott and his teammates can't find an adult to coach the team, it looks as if the Tigers' season might be over before it really begins. But then the players have an idea: what if one of them became coach? They learn about leadership and discover unique and unrecognized talents among their own friends.
Isaac is determined to pitch a perfect game: no hits, no runs, no walks, and no errors. If he does, he's sure to make the summer all-star team. But Isaac keeps losing his cool on the mound; he just can't get his head back in the game. Then he meets a very interesting Unified Sports basketball player who gets him thinking in a different way about the whole idea of "perfect."
Brendan is one of the best players in the league, but no matter how hard he tries, he can't make his team win. After an unexpected event and learning the story of Cubs player and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Brendan realizes that it's the love of the game that makes the experience a success.
T.J. is smaller than his teammates and his pitches just don't have the power to get the batters out. When he learns about 1940s player Rip Sewell, he may have found a solution. But will his teammates give T. J. a chance to prove that he can be a pitcher? And will T. J.'s secret pitch help lead his team to victory?
Last season, Jack’s pitches were the fastest around, and he could always rely on them to strike out his opponents. But now he’s playing in a new middle school league, where the distance between the pitching rubber and the catcher’s mitt is a lot greater. Jack keeps throwing heat but he can’t get seem to get balls into the strike zone. When a local college baseball coach offers to help him, Jack doesn't listen at first, but with the season on the line, he realizes the coach was right. Is it too late to change his game plan?
In order to win an important baseball game, twelve-year-old Kyle claims to have made a difficult catch, which he actually dropped. The attention he receives is not enough to silence his conscience. When Kyle learns of Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, a pitcher whose reputation for honesty was so great that umpires would ask him to make calls during games, he realizes that being a hero is only worthwhile if you have earned it.
Look for these books and more at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble.
Labels: Backlist Spotlight, Children's books, Fred Bowen, Middle Grades, Myron Uhlberg, Picture Book, Round-ups, Sports