Let's play two

>> Thursday, March 26, 2009

Editor Liz and Agent Barry send along two more reviews of The Brooklyn Nine, which may be taking the "Alan's Most Reviewed Book" prize away from Samurai Shortstop. The first is from BCCB, the Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books, which both uses the word "bijou" in a non-theatrical way, and suggests B9 could be used over the course of a year of American history study:

From the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries, baseball has run in the veins of Schneiders, and the nine short stories that constitute this latest baseball outing from Gratz (author of Samurai Shortstop, BCCB 7/06) cunningly illuminate the confluence of baseball and family history as it plays out across nine generations. First-generation German Jewish immigrant Felix is injured while fighting a Manhattan fire, and he never gets a chance to play the game, but his hand-sewn baseball and devotion to the game will pass to his heirs. Son Louis will save the life of a Confederate soldier who loves baseball as much as he does. As the Schneiders Anglicanize their name to Snider, and the female line takes on the surname Flint, the family comes in contact with baseball heroes and has-beens, participates in the All-American Girls Baseball League and the Little League, and cheers for the Dodgers (and, ahem, even the Yankees). Just when it seems like the current generation is too self-absorbed to care, the family is drawn back to the game through baseball memorabilia, some of which readers will suspect have passed through ancestral hands before hitting the auction market. While change and continuity is the pervasive theme, Gratz has crafted each generational snapshot to capture a pivotal moment that can be appreciated as a bijou of historical fiction. Nine innings to the game—nine months to the school year? Surely some imaginative history teachers will mull the possibilities of an ongoing read aloud.

Editor Liz also included this helpful definition of "bijou," from Merriam Webster:

  1. a small, dainty usually ornamented piece of delicate workmanship
  2. something delicate, elegant, or highly prized
Sweet! Agent Barry caught this review of The Brooklyn Nine in Publisher's Weekly, marking my first appearance in that magazine:

The love of baseball links nine generations of the Schneider/Snider/Flint family in this story collection that tracks the national pastime from the 1840s to the present day. It's an ambitious work of research, weaving authentic details about the evolution of the sport into stories about nine fictional young people with baseball in their DNA. Louis Schneider carries his father's treasured souvenir baseball into battle during the Civil War (Abner Doubleday makes a cameo), trading it for an original Louisville Slugger from a wounded rebel. The bat then plays a role in his son's misplaced worship of a fading legend. Another descendant has his illusions shattered when the hometown team is unmasked as racist. Girls are represented, too: one leaves Brooklyn to play for the Grand Rapids Chicks during World War II. These are not sports stories so much as historical fiction built around a theme, and though billed as a “novel in nine innings,” there's no real narrative tension pulling the reader forward. But baseball fans will find satisfying glimpses of the game as it has been played in its various incarnations.

Thanks to both reviewers! May all your fly balls fall for base hits...


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