Tag Archive for Six Innings Review

Fan Mail Wednesday #108: Boy reads book, shoots bear, continues reading book, writes report, asks for signed copy

I’ll admit it: Sometimes fan mail can get a little repetitive, become a chore. That’s not a complaint, I realize how lucky I am, and blessed, but there’s a lot of letters I don’t share here with my Nation of Readers.

That changes now. Beause this letter is awesome in about six different ways:

I replied:


Okay, that’s flat-out the coolest letter I’ve received in a while. Just to be clear: you were reading my book, got tapped on the shoulder, so you set down the book (careful not to lose your page) . . . and SHOT A BEAR!

Like, a real bear?

Somebody like this:

With teeth like this:

Oh, dear. I think I might have climbed a tree instead. But, wait. Black bears — which is what they’ve got in the Upper Peninsula — can climb trees, can’t they? In which case, maybe I would have stayed home and watched reruns of The Office.

Clearly, you are a gifted writer. I hope that you write about some of those experiences in the woods, the suspense of the hunt, the companionship with your grandfather, the waiting, the shot, all of it. I understand that it’s a gorgeous part of the country. Frankly, the hunt is a world I don’t know much about, but it appears to be something you have in your blood, even in your name. It’s one of the stories that only you could tell, and I think that’s what all writers seek, those stories that are uniquely our own. That’s rich soil for our writing.

Here at James Preller Dot Com, we have a policy, # 6.12:

6.12: When someone tells you that they shot a bear, and then that same person (possibly still armed) asks for a signed copy of your book, and he includes the book and a SASE in the letter . . . then you SIGN THE BOOK!

And if you want my wallet, Gunnar, here you go. Just don’t point that thing at me.

Thanks for including your book report on Six Innings. I love it when a review quotes a section of the book, it makes me feel like a real writer.

Excellent job, Gunnar.

My best,


Link Dump: Gift Ideas, Cosmic Knitting, Video Poems, Cool Books, Thoughts on Classroom Seating, and a Short Video That Will Make You Smile

* So nice to find one of my books mentioned in this way, and in this context. “The Gift of Reading,” by Charlie McCollum.

* Children’s author Alexandra Siy scribes a nifty piece for Geek Mom: “Thinking Is Cosmic Knitting:” How Making Mittens Helps Kids Learn. I have to share the awesome photo.

* This is a first. Somebody called me “renowned.” I would have gladly settled for affable. Or sinewy!

* Here’s a long article on the negative impact on the book industry by internet behemoth, Amazon. Worth a skim.

* I just ordered this book. It sounds wonderful. I want to talk to this guy.

* A way cool gift for the guitarist in your house.

* I think students would enjoy, and learn from, and maybe be inspired by this three-minute video poem, “Words.”

* A great idea for holiday gift-giving, if I don’t say so myself. Thank you, Mary Ann Scheuer for the kind review of Six Innings.

* For a baseball lover of a certain age, say around the half-century mark, I can recommend this book. This was from my formative, memorizing-every-statistic era.

* Teachers: What does it tell us about where students sit in the classroom? Some thoughts about seat “patterning.”

* I’ll admit it, even if it does make me look like a tool: At first, I was disappointed that A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade didn’t make this list of Children’s Books 2010100 Titles for Reading and Sharing. Two starred reviews, a glowing Wall Street Journal review, uproarious read-alouds in every school I’ve visited, and spectacular illustrations by Greg Ruth. But now, after chilling out for 24 hours? I’m still disappointed. Nonetheless: a great source for recommended reading, even if perhaps they might have (maybe) missed one. Arrrr.

* One minute and twenty seconds . . . and guaranteed to make you smile. I’d make that deal any day:

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Jen Robinson Reviews “Six Innings”

The ubiquitous, voracious Jen Robinson reviewed Six Innings. And all I can say is, Whew!

I admit it. A part of me hates reviews. It’s not intellectual, it’s emotional. They scare me. I freeze up and can’t read them. I was born without an ounce of Teflon; I want everyone to like everything and nothing rolls off my back. So it took two days, plus a prod from my editor, for me to muster the courage to read Jen’s review. Now here is essentially a nice woman, spreading love and good cheer, and I’m terrified. The review is lengthy, and to read it in full you’ve got to hit this link, but here’s a couple of quotes.

You see reviews sometimes that say “there’s baseball in it, but that’s not what the book is about.” But I would argue that Six Innings is about baseball. It’s about the purity of the game. The flow and ebb from inning to inning. The dynamics between the players. The role of the pitcher and the role of the coach. This book is a veritable ode to baseball.

I like Jen’s point. In marketing this book, we feared that it would be shoved into the “just a sports book” box. Not, cough-cough, children’s literature. It’s not about baseball, it’s about the wide range of boys who play it. But: Jen is right. It is about baseball, and that’s okay. Because the game is large and it is sturdy; it’s inclusive; it provides enough ground for a lot of things to enter the story if you allow them. I think it’s important, if we really care about boy readers, that we recognize that a book can be “about” sports and still run deep.

Jen goes on to quote various passages from the book, including this one, which was one of my favorites, because it sort of sums up my feelings for the game:

“And so it goes, typical baseball chatter, the talk that fills dugouts everywhere, the words that occupy the spaces the game provides, those gaps when nothing much seems to happen. To love baseball, to truly love the game, you’ve got to enjoy those empty places, the time to think, absorb, and shoot the breeze. A ball, a strike, a grounder to short. The slow rhythm of the game, a game of accumulation, of patterns, gathering itself toward the finish, like the first few miles of a marathon, not dramatic except for what it might mean later in the race.”

Again, Jen’s full review is worth reading, but here’s one last quote I can’t resist including:

I really enjoyed Six Innings. It’s beautifully written. I found myself sharing passages aloud as I was reading. And the end of the book brought tears to my eyes.

I keep having this vision of Jen Robinson reading aloud passages from Six Innings . . . to a Siamese cat. “Listen to this, Snookles . . .”

Finally and for no reason at all, here’s a rare shot of me in full raging Little League mode, talking with a 7/8 year-old, Kevin.