Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Big Field by Mike Lupica

I'm not a fan of Lupica - he's pretty much a loud mouth ESPN sports writer - a breed I tend to dislike - and I thought Heat was middling OK - but not great. But 2 fourth grade boys I know loved that book - I mean REALLY loved it. One of them is a baseball nut and a reader and the other just a reader. So I gave Lupica's newest book a ride, and I have to and hate to admit it, but I really liked it. I liked the pacing, the backstory, the characters, the setup - even if it is a typical kids' sports book that features an unnaturally gifted athlete in a championship series in which every game comes down to do or die. "Hutch" Hutchinson is a natural shortstop, a 14 year old boy who lives in a lousy neighborhood in Palm Beach County, Florida. He is the son of a Puerto Rican mom and a dad who once made it all the way to AAA baseball, but washed out. Now Hutch's dad works as a caddy and a limo driver. Hutch has always wished his dad would share baseball with him, but his dad never does. To make matters worse, Hutch has been moved to 2nd base because a young phenom (D-Will) has joined the team, and that boy has SKILLS - even if he doesn't seem to care about the team or the game - only where they can take him. The action moves along in this book, it all pulls together in the end, and Hutch finds out that his dad really does care. It all ties up neatly in a perfectly predictable way - but it is mighty satisfying and interesting along the way. I'd give this to any boy reader from about 5th grade up to 8th, and especially to your baseball or sports fan.

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