Sunday, January 31, 2016


By Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Scholastic Press, New York, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-545-60958-6
Price: $13.59

      This novel is for readers from eight to twelve. For baseball lovers and everyone overcoming their grief after a terrible loss.

      This story opens introducing the main character, Peter, running an errand to get eggs from the neighborhood store. He returns to a house where his mother is not in the kitchen. I read on to find out why. It is beautifully written. Peter is well developed and his dialogue is realistic.

      Here is the opening:

         “I am only gone long enough to get the eggs.
         “Ba had asked me to stop by the Minute Mart after school, but I had forgotten and come straight home, only to have to leave again. I ride my bike, but with the eggs I have to ride fast-slow—slow enough that the eggs won’t break but fast enough that I won’t get in trouble. When I turn the corner to our street, I see my sister, Elaine, sitting on the steps. She had been inside when I left, but now she is outside, holding her binoculars.
         “What are you doing, Laney? Looking for birds?” Laney usually looks for birds in the morning, but really, for her, anytime is a good time.”

         As the story goes on Peter tells us about a before and an after hinting at a tragedy that split the families history into these categories. It is told sensitively with insight into his own grief and response to this tragedy. He discusses the other responses of the family members.

         During Peter’s attempt to heal himself, he decides to play baseball. When he goes to sign up, his father comes with him to keep him company.  When there is a call for a coach for a team because the program doesn’t have enough coaches, Ba, Peter’s father, volunteers to coach his baseball team. Peter doesn’t know Ba can play baseball. Their relationship changes as they go through the season. The team faces many challenges they handle with courage and responsibility.

         Wan-Long Shang writes of loss, and grieving and give us this successful story about the love of baseball. The mysterious relationship between a father and son are explored when they are both traumatized by their grief.

          I give this story five out of five stars. It is a wonderful story of a boy struggling with grief, his mother’s depression, and his inability to communicate with his father. Everyone should enjoy it.

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