Guide to Juvenile Baseball Books: J

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Hero Bob Thomas is caught in a kind of chiasmus of desire: the granddaughter's interest in dating Bob masks her interest in developing baseball talent, but the catcher's needling masks a kind of man-crush.

Firmly in the mild, long-winded tradition of Wilfred McCormick or Duane Decker, but with above-average baseball action and lore. An interesting chapter structure follows Bucky and the Tigers from one American League park to another (omitting only Sportsman's Park in St. Louis; apparently the Browns were not even of fictional interest in the early 1950s).

This tract-as juvenile novel announces its own aesthetics: "That was one thing about a good story, a Christian one or not. If it was good, it kept the interest" (21). The book is partially successful on its own terms. The first in a long series, each volume devoted to a different sport. See also Jenkins's adult fiction.

One of the more angst-ridden juvenile baseball novels. Though ultimately the resolution is comic enough, young Ty Cutter has to cope with an embittered alcoholic dad, inflicting the scars of his own baseball failure on his son's back. The protracted game sequence (like many other baseball novels, this one devotes a chapter to each half-inning) is less a realistic ballgame than a frame for backstory and for intricate associations between baseball and life.

Standard Young Adult theme, with some believable, well-done moments.

Mostly a reasonable Young Adult treatment of disability and sexual abuse. But the novel cannot resist staging a big game while tying up all the family-drama issues during that big game, a sequence that strains plotlines and credulity.

Picture book for younger readers.

Early reader.