Free Baseball by Sue Corbett (Dutton, 2006). Felix loves baseball and longs for the day when his father, who's a baseball star in Cuba, will join him and his mother in Florida. When a team with a couple of players who might be Cuban comes to town, Felix takes advantage of being mistaken for the bat boy to stow away in the team bus. Exciting and heartfelt--a home run! Ages 8-up.
Baseball is not my sport of choice, but I found myself falling in love with the game as I read this novel. Felix is such an engaging hero--vulnerable, funny, smart, and assertive. He would be a good model for writers studying likeability at the mid-grade level.
The story has a happy--if bittersweet--ending that's just right. There's just a touch of everyday magic to this story--not magic magic but that feeling you get when you're really living and the world seems to sparkle. Love the dog!
Felix's mother is strong and loving--an unusual find in youth literature. The story also offers a context for Cuban refugees' political and human circumstances.
Back matter includes a helpful author's note, glossary of baseball terms, and glossary of Spanish words and phrases.
Sue also is the author of 12 Again (Dutton, 2002), her debut novel, which is recommended.
Cynsational News & Links
"Lies and Reasons Why Writers Don't Write" by Elizabeth A. Wright from the Institute of Children's Literature.
Perspectives: "Are Book Tours Worthwhile?" by Katrina Weidknecht from CBC Magazine.
Skill-Building: Memory, Research, and Observation: Keys To Compelling Children's Books: An Exclusive Authorlink Interview with Jane Kurtz by Susan VanHecke from Authorlink.com. Jane's books include Do Kangaroos Wear Seatbelts?, illustrated by Jane Manning (Dutton, 2005) and In the Small, Small Night, illustrated by Rachel Isadora (Greenwillow, 2005), "recently named by The Washington Post as one of the five best picture books of the year," (author interview)(author update). Jane talks about her path to publication, her first sale, being prolific, shopping manuscripts, the multicultural market, her international influences, research, her latest works, and more.