Tag Archive for Children’s Book Reviews

The Reading Zone Reviews Six Innings

I’ve been building and organizing my links lately — there’s so much great stuff out there, and I want my blog to “only connect” — so I clicked on The Reading Zone to see what’s what. And lo! There’s a review of Six Innings right there on the front page. It’s always interesting when a reviewer admits to not liking baseball, and then watching how they handle that. Here’s the conclusion of the review:

This is a story that baseball fans, especially boys, will flock to. The game is described in detail, which may turn off some non-sports fans, but you can tell that James Preller poured his own passion for baseball into the story. I am looking forward to introducing it into my classroom library because many of my boys play Little League and I know they will connect with this story. However, this is also a story about friendship, family, and the pressures that kids deal with. I can see some of my girls connecting to these aspects of the book and also enjoying the story.

I didn’t know anything about the Cybil Awards, so I clicked away. Guess what? It’s the “premier Web awards for children’s literature.” Actually, the site is pretty great and I’ve added it to our growing sidebar.

This whole business of “learning-something-new-every-day” can be pretty distracting. At some point I’m just going to stop. I’m going to get myself a rocking chair. And I’m going to find a big wraparound front porch (don’t have one, dream of one). And I’m going to put a blanket on my lap, grab a Pabst Blue Ribbon, and spew. I’ve always wanted to be that Old Man. Cranky, irascible, dyspeptic, holding forth on how we’re all going to hell in a hand basket (my mother’s phrase). I don’t know why. It just seems like fun.

I like the idea of performing roles, fulfilling expectations. For example: Dad is food shopping. Uh-oh. He’s going to come back with something delicious that’s bad for us, some not-exactly-food-stuff that Mom would never, ever buy. It becomes an obligation. A familiar dance. A kind of joy. And I throw the Cap’n Crunch into the cart.

Artwork from gapingvoid.com.

Nice Review

Just passing along a nice review for Six Innings that I found on the web today at a cool site dedicated to children’s books. With nice comments like this, I’m worried that my head might explode.

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My reaction after finishing this short novel for pre-teen and teens, especially who are really into the finer points of baseball playing and the spirit of the game was a tremendous respect for the author. James Preller poured much of his passion for the game into a finely crafted story set in just ONE little league game: 6 innings, character sketches of 12 players of one visiting team, and the framing, soul-searching story of the 13-year-old severely ill ex-ballplayer-turned-announcer…

I am not particularly into baseball: enjoy watching the game once in a while, of course, but do not personally collect memorabilia or statistics as a life-long hobby. This book makes me want to know and learn more about the game, its history and all the psychological aspects of the players and the plays; it also makes me believe that there is a reason for someone, young or old, to be completely lost in the world of sports and get much of their life’s wisdom out of these games.

Preller also has quite a way with words and turn of phrases:

p. 15: “Aaron Foley, short and stocky with a squashed-in face that reminded Sam of an English bulldog, did more than toss his cookies. No Aaron projected his vomit across the room, spewing his insides as if fired from a cannon, a thunderous blast of wet barf splattering onto the tile floor.” p. 16… That’s how Sam and Mike began their friendship, sealed with a simple exchange, a look across a silent (but foul-smelling) distance.

p. 18: (About the five tools of baseball: speed, glove, arm, power, and the ability to hit for average.) Branden Reid, however, posesses a sixth tool, amnesia, the art of forgetting. Baseball is, after all, a game of failure. The only thing that a player can influence is the next play, the next at bat.

p. 22 (this describes the game, but somehow fittingly describes the book as well): “The slow rhythm of the game, a game of accumulation, of patterns, gathering itself toward the finish…” AND what a finish this book has! I felt like I witnessed a historic game after reading the last page of the book (and it isn’t even about the game or the innings or the winners and the losers.)

p. 63: “There’s a squarish, two-story bulding — an overachieving shed, really”

p. 46: On the field, baseball is a game of isolation, nine singular outposts of shared solitude… You are a “team” immediately before and after each play. (This does get repeated on page 132.)

p. 106: Tragedy, the stuff of comedy.

There are a few specific references that will definitely date the book — which is too bad: p. 40: the boys talking about Jessica Simpson and someone listening to the lyrics to a Jay-Z tune.