Guide to Juvenile Baseball Books: Dan Gutman
Dan Gutman, prolific juvenile writer, is the author of the most durable baseball series of the early 21st century: the Baseball Card Adventures.
- Gutman, Dan. Casey Back at Bat. Illustrated by Steve Johnson. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. The Mighty Casey redeems himself -- or does he?.
"Casey at the Bat" has been adapted innumerable times, but this one is a nicely-paced, cleverly-executed twist and re-twist of the old idea, and works well as a picture book for young kids.
- Gutman, Dan. The Shortstop Who Knew Too Much. New York: Scholastic, 1997. [Tales from the Sandlot #1] Infielder develops ESP, which is both a good and a bad thing.
Pilot for a short-lived series.
- Gutman, Dan. Honus & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. New York: Avon, 1997. A rare baseball card transports a kid back in time to the 1909 World Series.
Charming use of the time travel device that has been seen in other baseball fiction (e.g. Darryl Brock's If I Never Get Back), but is put to good use here in a children's story.
- Gutman, Dan. Jackie & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. New York: Avon, 1999. To do a report on a famous African-American, the young hero travels in time to 1947 and becomes a batboy for the Dodgers.
So he can learn about prejudice first-hand (an experience unavailable in 1999?), the white hero becomes a black kid. This sequel to Honus and Me is a solid presentation of the standard lore about Jackie Robinson.
- Gutman, Dan. Babe & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. New York: Avon, 2000. Third in the series: our hero takes his Dad to the 1930s on a memorabilia hunt.
This series is growing thin, but that's never stopped a series before. I predict a long run ahead: Rajah & Me, Yogi & Me, Buckner & Me . . .
- Gutman, Dan. Shoeless Joe & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. 2002. New York: HarperTrophy, 2003. So I was wrong: in the fourth volume, Joe Stoshack heads for 1919 in an attempt to stave off the Fix.
Interesting for its hagiographic treatment of Joe Jackson, who comes across like a mix of Little Lord Fauntleroy and Jean Valjean.
- Gutman, Dan. Mickey & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. New York: HarperCollins, 2003. Even explaining the title would be a spoiler.
Fresh material here, but it's mostly expository; the book has no plot, no dramatic tension.
- Gutman, Dan. Abner & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. Joe Stoshack and his mom travel to 1863 to ask General Doubleday if he invented baseball.
Weird mix of genre formulas, as baseball meshes with the Civil War.
- Gutman, Dan. Satch & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. Joe Stoshack and his coach Flip Valentini travel to 1942 with a borrowed radar gun to see if Satchel Paige was the fastest pitcher who ever threw.
And of all baseball greats, you would imagine that Satchel Paige would be the least nonplussed by a pair of white time-traveling hitchhikers.
- Gutman, Dan. Jim & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. New York: HarperCollins, 2008. Joe Stoshack and bully Bobby Fuller travel to 1913 to help Bobby's ancestor Jim Thorpe redeem himself after his 1912 Olympic medals are taken away.
Light-hearted enough till it takes an odd turn into temperance-novel territory. Read about Jim & Me at lection.
- Gutman, Dan. Ray & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. New York: HarperCollins, 2009. Once more into the past, this time Joe Stoshack tries to save the life of Ray Chapman and keep Carl Mays from a lifetime of regret.
Unable to stop the fatal pitch, Joe gets sidetracked onto a parallel plot that teaches about race prejudice in the 1920s.
- Gutman, Dan. Roberto & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. New York: HarperCollins, 2010. Joe Stoshack attempts to persuade Roberto Clemente not to sacrifice his life helping earthquake victims.
This installment leaps around in history a bit more than the others, and offers mixed messages on whether you can change its course. A new wrinkle is that while Joe keeps weaving around the past trying to change things, he realizes that what we really have power to change is the future.
- Gutman, Dan. Ted & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. New York: HarperCollins, 2012. Joe Stoshack fails once more to prevent a historic disaster (Pearl Harbor, this time), but learns fly-fishing and the theory of hitting baseballs from the Splendid Splinter.
Good fun, with more expository information and less plot than the usual Baseball Card Adventure. Includes a dollop of NSA-era paranoia: in this one the Government enlists Joe in a top-secret time-travel project (and then, true to form, can't even give him the right baseball card to get him where he's going).
- Gutman, Dan. Willie & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. New York: HarperCollins, 2015. Joe Stoshack finally succeeds at something – preventing the Shot Heard Round the World, out of sympathy for Ralph Branca and lack thereof for Leo Durocher – but will the butterfly effect lead to unintended consequences?
Seems to be the final Baseball Card Adventure, with an extended valedictory sequence at the end. "Willie" of the title and cover illustration is of course Mays, making this the first in the series where Joe goes back in time to visit players still alive in his present (Branca and Mays). The time-line gets somewhat knotted, but Gutman plays it out in best SF fashion.