|Image from LindaSuePark.com|
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2008
Maggie-O, named after baseball great Joe DiMaggio, is a devoted Brooklyn Dodgers fan. It’s the 1950’s and it seems like Maggie has been hoping and praying for the Dodgers to win the World Series for her entire life. But her devotion to baseball takes a new form when Jim, a new firefighter and a Giants fan, teaches Maggie how to score baseball games. Maggie’s world takes another unexpected turn when Jim is drafted into the Korean War. At first he replies to all of Maggie’s letters, but suddenly he stops. Now Maggie worries about two things: Jim and the Dodgers. She does everything she can think of to help, but what if nothing she does makes a difference?
Maggie is a genuine and enthusiastic protagonist and her observations and emotions will keep readers’ attention as she learns about baseball, friendship, and the world beyond Brooklyn.Park uses vernacular of the 1950’s Brooklyn to bring Maggie, her friends, and family to life. Readers will also learn about the Korean War as Maggie struggles to understand the events that change Jim. Written in 3rd person, this book is a compelling read for die-hard, as well as new, baseball fans. Maggie’s entire world revolves around baseball and the characters often give each other play-by-play details of a particular game. For readers who aren’t familiar with the rules of scoring (such as myself), illustrations are helpfully incorporated into the text. More information about scoring a baseball game is provided in the author’s note.
Read an excerpt of the book.
*Bring in photographs of the baseball players discussed in the book, such as Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, and Roy Campanella. If kids have a favorite baseball player, ask them to bring in a picture or baseball card to share with the class.
*Check out the reader’s guide published by Houghton Mifflin for discussion questions and project ideas.
*Pair this book with baseball poems, such as those found in the following collections:
Extra Innings: Baseball Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Illustrated by Scott Medlock
Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems by Marjorie Maddox, Illustrated by John Sandford
That Sweet Diamond: Baseball Poems by Paul B. Janeczko, Illustrated by Carole Katchen
*Other middle grade books about baseball: