Guide to Juvenile Baseball Books: H

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The striking illustrations are the best part of this book; despite Hall's credentials as a poet and baseball writer, the text is somewhat dry and expository.

Formulaic entry in a series where a group of friends play a different sport in each novel.

The inept young ballplayer is white but with an absent father; the artist, a sensitive ex-pro athlete, is black. It's an oddly persistent theme in children's books (see Slote and others linked there).

Very grown-up juvenile, typical of its period, with a gritty message and large dollops of corn on the side.

By Charlie and the Chocolate Factory out of Angels in the Outfield.

An example of a kind of vigorous (if somewhat bland) multiculturalism in postwar children's literature; among the author's other books were Hosh-Ki, The Navaho and The Burro Tamer. Here, segregation is the theme on almost every page – never its murderous aspects, but its steady grind of denial and exclusion.

Character-driven intermediate novel that could use a thicker plot.

Cleverly-done flaps and pop-ups add to the appeal of this picture book.

Pleasant short chapter book.

Rich with content for young fans.

Agreeable if quickly-dated Space-Race era story. Read about Horace Higby at lection.

The Captain of the Nine alternates baseball game action with a fussy narrative of bitter jealousies. Second baseman Mellen, "nursing a grouch," does everything he can to undermine the captaincy of pitcher Bartley, including faking a telegram to Bartley's catcher so that the receiver will miss the Big Game. The cad.

Weak tale of big conflicts and jealousies over very small things. Read about The Big Leaguer at lection.

Criticism: Dagavarian

Oscar the horse is what statheads would call a "toolsy" player: he has great speed and great range in center, but he bats .000/.000/.000. He is mainly a talisman: once his teammates see that they're being outplayed by a horse, they shake off their bad habits. A light burlesque of sport-juvenile formulas.

Other plot motifs in this first-chapter-book include a crusty old lady who's soft at heart and a magical bat that turns out to be ordinary.

Convincing study of a young player learning to accept constructive criticism.

See also Honig's adult fiction.

Agreeable basic reader.

Colorful celebration of Weiss's journey from small-town Ohio to semi-pro baseball to the medical profession.

This one has some fun with a formula that creaked terribly even back in 1914. Interesting are the illustrations by Paul Thompson: they are staged or appropriated photographs of baseball scenes, not drawings or paintings.

Flat Stanley is, of course, as thick as cardboard, so he has some advantages at baseball: hard to pitch to and able to float on thermals, which gives him a high OBP and excellent dWAR in centerfield. But stung by teasing, Stanley bulks up (thanks to some socks and other items stuffed into his jersey), and gains power at the expense of speed. Honestly, it's very hard not to read this picture book in 2013 as anything other than an allegory of steroids, but that can't be what the authors intend, and it all ends innocently enough with Stanley the hero of the game despite his new musclebound build.

A first-chapter-book. Not exceptionally coherent.

This book kicked off a long-running series. The story is quite routine but the descriptions of game action are above average.

A sequel to Hughes's novel Family Pose, this one is standard Young Adult fare in the 1990s vein of struggles to cope with the implications of various family fracturings. All such novels, I believe, are really about divorce, but like others this one all but avoids the issue: the central character's parents are dead (in a fiery drunken car crash, of course, underlining a temperance message), and his girlfriend's father is in prison for white-collar crime. Only the foster father is divorced, and that is a marginal element in the novel.

Classic theme, made complicated here by interesting characters and family dynamics.