Monday, March 25, 2019

MMGM- Goodbye, Mr. Spalding

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

Barr, Jennifer Robin. Goodbye, Mr. Spalding
March 26th 2019 by Calkins Creek Books
ARC provided by publisher

Jimmy Frank and his best friend Lola both live right across from the home of the Philadelphia A's field, Shibe Park, during the Great Depression. Both of their families count on the little bit of extra money they can make selling tickets to watch the game from the roof, as well as from concessions. When the owner threatens to put up a "spite fence" in order to block the view, the neighborhood is duly upset, and Jimmy and Lola try to find ways to talk to Connie Mack and the players they know to get this decision reversed. All of their actions, however, are circumscribed by the nasty and violent Polinksi boys, who wreak havoc on the neighborhood. When reasonable efforts don't pay off, Jimmy resorts to subterfuge, which gets him into more trouble than it helps! The whole neighborhood has an emotional investment in the well-being of the team, so they aren't happy with the lack of ticket sales, but they don't feel that depriving the neighborhood of its opportunities is the answer. Will the two entities be able to come up with a solution?
Strengths: This had a lot of good details about the level of poverty that affected every day citizens in the 1930s. It's a concept that modern students have a lot of trouble with. This also showcased baseball in a particularly delightful way, and the descriptions about the daily interplay between the baseball people and the residents was wonderful. I need an entire book about Connie Mack now! The Polinski boys were even in a very Little Rascals, A Christmas Story way, and got their comeuppance very nicely. This was a very fun book to read.
Weaknesses: If this had been about 80 pages shorter, it would have been punchier and more appealing to my students. Sometimes the same issues are covered too many times or in too much detail.
What I really think: Apparently, the US needs more baseball as a unifying influence. Since it's the only sport (other than cross country) that I really understand, I am okay with this. Definitely purchasing for my baseball fans, as well as for our 7th grade unit on historical fiction from the 1930s-1980s.
Ms. Yingling


  1. This sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the review. I love historical fiction.

  2. I was born in Philadelphia and my father and grandfather both grew up there, and they were both huge baseball fans. I heard a lot about Connie Mack and the old teams from them when I was a kid. Glad you found this a fun book to read.

  3. I agree with your thoughts about the country needing more baseball as a unifying influence. This sounds like an excellent read -- I love baseball stories in the 30s and 40s. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I do love baseball so any book that revolves around that is interesting to me. Thanks for telling me about this book. I will look for it.

  5. This sounds like a great novel! I agree that books about poverty are something a lot of children need (unfortunately). Thanks so much for the review!

  6. Yes, this does sound great! I enjoy reading about baseball, especially in the old days. As much as I love basketball and football, baseball is almost a mythic sport. And I can remember when baseball really was the national pastime and something that united the country.