July 21, 2009

Happy 16th Birthday to my oldest son, Wesley!  He loves baseball, and I cannot imagine how many hours I have spent at the baseball diamond, park, or backyard watching him play.  He has been an enjoyment!

Being drawn to the sport, I collect baseball stories.  I was intrigued with this book when I visited the bookstore earlier this spring,  Michael’s Golden Rules.  Knowing the excellent text, Salt in His Shoes, I was delighted with the storyline in this new one.  Michael Jordan shares some insight into his winning attitude as he addresses the reader with a page-length introduction.  Michael shares that he is best known for his basketball skills, yet baseball was his first pick.

Michael's Golden Rules

Michael shares that he always felt like a winner because he followed the ten golden rules.  Those rules helped him on the court and in life.  Deloris Jordan and Roslyn Jordan give us a snapshot into Michael’s little league days.  His friend, Jonathan, is having trouble with playing and so his uncle shares the rules.  The text gives you snapshots of the boys talking about the game and life and applying the rules.  Although they do not win the big game, Jonathan feels like a winner.

I’ve learned it takes heart to come out a winner every time, whether you win or lose. MJ

I read this book to a fourth grade class this past spring, and they enjoyed it.  The boys were attentive and listened.  We talked about how the rules could be applied to the classroom.  It is an excellent text for building classroom community as well as boosting their self-confidence in learning.  Here a few of the rules:

  1. Pay attention to the coach at all times.
  2. Be a team player.
  3. Practice a winning attitude.
  4. Learn from your mistakes.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Michael’s Golden Rules:

  • Stretching the important scenes
  • Character traits
  • Internal Conflict and thinking
  • Play by play sections – this is a good mentor text for kids who like to tell about the “entire” game.  It shows how to fast-forward over slow parts and stretch the important scenes with conversation and internal thinking
  • Teaching perseverance

Oliver’s Game – Where a story comes from

November 18, 2008

Having a son who eats, breathes, and sleeps baseball, my eye catches books about the game.  Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine, so Oliver’s Game was a treasure find.  I was even more thrilled when I noticed the Chicago Cubs were featured.

Oliver Hall loved baseball. …and he loved listening to Grandpa Hall’s wonderful stories about what he called the Golden Age of the Game.”

The story begins with Oliver finding a Chicago Cub’s uniform in an old trunk.  “Every item in this shop has a story to tell,” Grandpa Hall would say. After questioning his grandpa, Grandpa shares his story through a flashback.  He was 18 and asked to practice with the Cub team at the end of the Cub’s season.  Matt Tavares explodes the moment when ‘the rookie’ hits the ball.  You can feel his spirits soaring as his dream was coming true.

But the story takes a turn when World War II begins.  He joins the marines.  Upon turning the page, you see a young uniformed soldier on crutches in the dug out.  Your spirit as a reader cringes when you read, “After that, I stayed away from Wrigley Field.

Grandpa Hall shares how he struggled and then opened Hall’s Nostalgia.  Flashing forward, the story ends with them ready to watch the Cub game from his rooftop.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Oliver’s Game:

  • Exploding the Moment – “A shock ran up my arms as the bat struck the ball head on.”
  • Childhood memories – In Matt Tavares’s illustrator’s journal Dec. 16, 2001, he stated that “Hall’s Nostalgia is a tribute to a baseball card store I spent many a Saturday afternoon when I was a kid.”  I find that fascinating!  Kids need to know that authors take ordinary every day activities and weave them into their stories.
  • Internal struggle – being close to his dream
  • Flashbacks