Friday, October 26, 2012

Books About Boys

My husband is the baseball fan in our family. I prefer basketball. Of course I'd heard of the great Satchel Paige, but knew next to nothing about his prowess as a pitcher. King of the Mound ~ My Summer with Satchel Paige taught me some of the subtle nuances of pitching and catching and the relationship between the two.

Nick is a young pitcher with a lot of promise until Polio leaves him with a bum leg. His father, a minor league catcher, defines himself by his skills as a player, and can only sees Nick's limitations.  Nick thinks his pitching days are over.

Two unlikely friendships forever change how Nick feels about himself and others. The legend Satchel Paige joins the local minor team and takes Nick under his wing, teaching him lessons about baseball and what it means to persevere in the face of adversity. And Nick's neighbor Emma helps Nick confront his fears, proving to him that not everyone sees him as a cripple.

This book was equal parts fun and inspiring. You can't help but love Nick, and the Satchel Paige stories were interesting even to a non-baseball lover. I recommend this book to kids eight and older, especially those who like baseball. King of the Mound is definitely a draw for sports-minded reluctant readers or lovers of baseball history. I'd also suggest this book to teachers who are looking for a strong story featuring an African American icon. Great any time of year, King of the Mound would make a wonderful lesson or read aloud during African American Heritage month.

Patricia MacLachlan writes well-crafted stories with genuine, believable characters. She wraps these charming stories in small packages and presents them to us as gifts.

Her latest middle grades fiction, Kindred Souls, is a love story - a spirited grandfather and his school-age grandson share an enviable bond. Grandpa Billy is in his twilight years and yearns for the comforts of his past. His grandson Jake can't imagine a world without Billy. When Billy gets sick, Jake and his family work together to give Billy a piece of his past - a sod house built in the same spot as Billy's childhood home.

Like MacLachlan's Sarah Plain and Tall, Kindred Souls is a timeless piece of writing to be cherished by young and old. I recommend this book to independent readers and a young middle grades audience, but it will also be enjoyed by parents, grandparents and teachers who crave well-written stories with simple plots and memorable characters.

Blog you later!

Ali B.

1 comment:

Deb Marshall said...

Thanks for sharing these. Loved Kindred Souls. Will be looking up how to build a sod house.