Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Wes Tooke
Illustrator: Tim Jessell
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
After a year in the hospital recovering from polio, Nick returns with an injured leg back home to his cranky and brusque father in Bismark, North Dakota. His life before getting sick was full of baseball dreams, but now his father believes he will never amount to anything. Things start to look bright when "Satch" Paige comes to Bismark to play on Nick's father's team. Nick also begins a wonderful friendship with the neighbor girl, Emma. As Nick works hard and tries his best, he gains the courage to step back onto the mound and follow his dreams.
This book is a great reminder to never give up on yourself or others and to trust your dreams rather than naysayers' doubts. The character Emma is a breath of fresh air. She likes baseball and knows how to boost up Nick's confidence in himself. There is enough baseball description to keep the sports fans entertained, and enough historical detail to be useful for teachers. Placed during the Great Depression, readers get a glimpse into the life of those struggling to survive and making do with what they have. The character development in the book is strong as well.
*Contains mild violence.