Do you remember that classic scene in the original “Miracle on 34th Street,” when a line of uniformed postal workers comes into the courtroom to dump sacks of letters on the judge’s desk?
That’s the way it is around here every day at Jamespreller.com.
So let’s take a gander at one . . .
Dear James Preller,
My name is Dillon. I am in 7th grade and I go to _______ Middle School. Some things I like to do is ride dirt bikes and four wheelers because I have a lot of woods and fields to ride on. I also like to go hiking and find cool things like stuff in my creek and in my woods or anywhere.
I am reading the book Six Innings. I liked your book because I like baseball and books about baseball even though I’m not that good at it. When I read your book it was good. That’s coming from me and I usually don’t like to read at all.
My favorite character in the book was Dylan Van Zant. He was my favorite character in the book for a couple of reasons. One reason is he has the same first name as me. Another reason that Dylan Van Zant is my favorite character is because he is nice and not a mean kid at all.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter to you. But before I am done I will ask you some questions and one is why did you pick Dylan Van Zant to be a nice kid and a really good baseball player. Like in real life sometimes people who are really good baseball players are mean. Another question is why did you pick the title Six Innings.
Thanks for your letter. I liked that you began by telling me a little bit about yourself. Like you, I also enjoy nature, though I’m not really a dirt bike kind of guy. Too noisy. Growing up, I had some friends, Timmy Tighe and Frank Connelly, who built their own motor bikes — basically lawn mower engines attached to regular bicycles — and we loved cruising around on them. Their hands were always filthy, covered in oil and grease. These days, you couldn’t get me on a motorcycle if you paid me. I can only imagine skidding across the cement . . . ouch, Ouch, OUCH. I guess if you’re a good rider you can’t let those negative thoughts into your head.
When I think of motorcycles, all I can imagine
is a long, sad stay in the hospital.
I’m glad you enjoyed my baseball book. It makes me happy when someone who doesn’t normally like to read writes to say that my book wasn’t as bad as he might have expected. Out of all the characters in that book — besides Sam’s father — I might have identified the most with Dylan Van Zant. As a Little Leaguer, I loved to pitch. I could never throw that hard, but I had great control and I absolutely loved standing on that mound with the ball in my hand, literally the King of the Hill.
It’s true what you said: Sometimes when people are very good at things, they can be obnoxious about it. You know, conceited, superior, like they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. (I can’t stand those types of people.) I think with Dylan, he knows he’s not a superstar; he just loves playing the game.
I titled the book Six Innings because that was my first idea for the book, to use the structure of one Little League game — across six innings — to tell the story of the players and the plays. It was a sturdy format, because it gave me a beginning, middle, and end.
Mostly though, I have vivid memories of my Little League games, they were important to me, and I know that many kids felt, and still feel, the same way. Thanks for writing. I appreciate it. I hope you continue to seek out other books you might enjoy, even if the pickings look slim. I’m sure there are books in your school library that are just right for someone with your interests and obvious intelligence. Try your school librarians — professional know-it-alls, they love bringing good kids and books together.