Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Play Ball!

Stout, Glenn. Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway's Remarkable First Year.
E-ARC received from Publication date 10/13/2011

From tearing up the sod from a previous ballfield and moving it to the under-construction Fenway to details about the construction of the building to the intricacies of the daily life of the players, every detail of Fenway Park is covered in this book. Mr. Stout clearly has a passion for his material, and I am amazed at the research that must have gone into this. Anyone involved in this project is discussed: groundskeeper, architect, coaches, owners, players. Even at 416 pages, this wasn't boring and kept me reading even though I don't follow baseball.
Strengths: This has got to be THE definitive work on this subject. I can't imagine even a dissertation that could be more complete.
Weaknesses: Even my hard-core middle school baseball fans might find this too long. It would be great if Stout used this research to do a middle grade historical novel about the first season.

Green, Tim. Best of the Best.
Josh is thrilled when he gets chosen for the team playing in the Little League World series, but is devastated that his father, who now has a lucrative contract with Nike, is leaving his mother for a red-lipsticked real estate agent who wears tight skirts. To make matters worse, his father's new girlfriend, Diane, lies to get his best friend on the team with him. Also on the team is Diane's son, Zamboni, who makes Josh's life difficult. When Josh begins to realize that not only is Diane still involved with her ex-husband, but that the two of them are trying to defraud his father by encouraging him to make a bad investment, Josh and his reporter friend Jaden try to discover what's going on and warn him. There are also the baseball games to worry about.

Strengths: Green's sports writing is always top notch, and the man's resume makes me feel like the world's worst slacker.
Weaknesses: The family problems figured too largely in this third installment. Josh's father is a complete idiot, and having the "other woman" be so stereotypically predatory was just... weird. This veered into areas that were slightly too mature for middle school-- not inappropriate, just too much information.

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