It’s late October and the underdog Washington Nationals have just defeated the New York Mets to win the National League championship for the first timIt’s late October and the underdog Washington Nationals have just defeated the New York Mets to win the National League championship for the first time in 76 years. Sniffing out a story in the Nationals’ locker room, 14 year old “kid reporter” Stevie Thomas meets Norbert Doyle, a quiet, reserved pitcher recently called up from the minor leagues. Doyle’s back story is the stuff of dreams and Hollywood movies. After losing his wife in a gruesome car accident, he toiled away unsung in the minors for close to 20 years while also raising twin kids as a single dad. And now here he is, in his late 30s without a single major league win under his belt on his way to the World Series.
But, to Stevie, something’s not sitting right about Doyle’s story.
What’s worse, Susan Carol’s hiding things from him, including the details of her budding relationship with Doyle’s son.
Encouraged by his mentor at the Washington Herald, Stevie launches an investigation that takes him three hours away to Lynchburg, VA where he learns the toil of real shoe-leather reporting – analyzing police reports, conducting interviews, fact-checking, and barely escaping a vicious dog attack – and slowly begins to chip away at the dark secret encased in Norbert Doyle’s past.
But, what is he after? And what does it have to do with baseball?
John Feinstein’s latest, Change Up: Mystery At the World Series, is a feast for baseball fans. One of the things so exciting about Feinstein’s books is the way he applies his passion for sports, knowledge of the games, and experience as a real life sports reporter to the page. When he describes a game play by play the writing crackles. He captures the mounting tension of a possible no-hitter, the magic of witnessing baseball history. He sits you there in the press box where seasoned reporters trade off-the-cuff sports anecdotes, and he brings alive the locker room tension between print journalists looking for a relevant story and the boorish TV guys looking for a cheapo sound bite.
It’s great fun. Fans of Feinstein’s other “kid reporter” sports mysteries (Last Shot, Cover-Up, and Vanishing Act) will relish another well-plotted and gripping book led by Stevie and Susan Carol. But, with Change Up, Feinstein takes his usual whip-smart game to a higher level by focusing on the demands of investigative reporting, making it an excellent read for anyone who dreams of working as a writer one day.
A lot of the book reads like a tribute to the hard, unglamorous work of print journalism. As Stevie is drawn deeper into Doyle’s back story he learns the ropes of what it takes to be a great reporter – the inner fortitude and ingenuity you’ve got to tap when you hit a wall, the rigorous, painstaking process of gathering accurate information, and a commitment to your readers, the public, who deserve nothing short of the truth....more
Physical Condition: I was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5 (for more details, read Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick, but that book is mostly about my brother Stephen and how hard it was for him when he was in eighth grade for me to have cancer, FYI). My cancer is in remission, but, like I say in this new book that’s out about my eighth grade year, After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick, “Treatment is nothing compared to what happens after you’ve been ‘cured.’ . . . Being a cancer survivor can be a life sentence all its own.” Because of all the intense radiation and chemotherapy I received, I walk with a limp on my right side and have some neurological damage that basically makes me “a little scrambled up” and I can’t focus in class for any period of time. So if you want me to figure out math, or be some sort of math genius like my dad, the accountant, well, you can forget about it.
Oh, yeah: I’m short, chubby, and I wear glasses. Do those count as conditions?
Interests: My girlfriend, Lindsay. (WHOA, IT’S WEIRD TO WRITE THAT! Seriously, who would have thought a girl, let alone Lindsay, the coolest, most down-to-Earth, and hottest girl in the school, would ever like me!?! Did I mention I’m spacey and chubby with a limp? You could call me Chubby Limp! Why would Lindsay go for a kid named Chubby Limp? Shrug, but it’s pretty cool.
Oh, yeah, I love riding my bike: “I can’t walk too well, but when I’m on my bike, I fly.”
Hero: My brother, Stephen. Stephen is currently wandering Africa banging on some hand drums “to find himself” while I suffer through 8th grade, the second worst year of my life. I used to depend on Stephen for everything, but now that I might not pass the eighth grade because of some stupid state test in math (Mom and Dad don’t know about this because I, er, shoved the letter from the school about the tests down the garbage disposal) and a girl actually likes me for the first time in my life (seriously, holy crap) where is he? AFRICA!
I wish I could only be angry at him, but truth is, I really miss him.
Inspiration: Um, if you ever tell him this I’ll ride my bike off a pier, but my inspiration is my friend Tad who’s also a cancer survivor. Tad’s also got a whole bunch of messed up problems from his treatment, (his leukemia was even worse than mine, so he’s in a wheelchair and has brain damage, which may or may not be the cause of a serious bitterness problem), but we’re trying to help each other live life to the fullest (and pass eighth grade) which means I have to put up with him while he tutors me in math and he has to put up with me yelling at him to try harder on the exercise bike during gym class because I want to see him walk across the stage at graduation. That’s right, Tad: walk. Together we’re gonna make our goals for each other happen. Read After Ever After to see how we do....more
What would it be like to lose yourself in a foreign country only to realize you had lost others, too? This graphic novel is honest, heartbreaking andWhat would it be like to lose yourself in a foreign country only to realize you had lost others, too? This graphic novel is honest, heartbreaking and terrible. I am not sure if it is all true or not--- but it is amazing and you won't believe it! Soooooo good!...more
If you thought combining zombies starving for brains and English Regency society was strange, what about pairing our illustrious 16th President with tIf you thought combining zombies starving for brains and English Regency society was strange, what about pairing our illustrious 16th President with the undead? Seth Grahame-Smith, the mastermind behind last year’s wildly popular Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is at it again.
Sure, Lincoln brought together a broken nation. Yes, he freed the slaves, but it seems his battles with blood thirsty vampires have been forgotten by history– or so Grahame-Smith would like you to think.
The book, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, is based upon the idea that there is a previously undiscovered diary by Lincoln. The diary details Lincoln’s struggle against the undead. In truth, Lincoln never kept a diary, but this is a rather entertaining imagining.
Grahame-Smith even works in the true fact that Lincoln was a great fan of Edgar Allen Poe by incorporating the Gothic writer into the mix as well. Also, the illustrations guarantee that you’ll never look at Lincoln in quite the same way again.
The author recently gave an interview to NPR explaining about the book and a bit about the craze for mash-ups that he started.
If you’re looking for a different take on vampires, or just a good laugh, I highly recommend this one. ...more
You’re in your parents bedroom. You’re looking for something, could be anything – a beach pass, your dad’s Swiss Army Knife, maybe a sweater your momYou’re in your parents bedroom. You’re looking for something, could be anything – a beach pass, your dad’s Swiss Army Knife, maybe a sweater your mom asked you to grab. Imagine it now. Imagine their bedroom. Now you’re shuffling through their things. And that’s when you find it. The Unwind Order. Your blood runs cold, a flash shocks your eyes, your heart thrashes. This must be a joke. But, no, this isn’t a joke because there are your parents’ signatures right there slashed across the page: ‘We hereby grant permission for the federal government to unwind our son.’ You drop the page to the floor, shaking. You’re going to be unwound. Frantically you touch your arms, your teeth, your eyelids, your tongue, your hair, and your knees. You’re feeling, feeling the parts of the body you’re going to lose when they unwind you. This is the end. Goodnight, sweet prince.
In Neal Shusterman’s seriously creepy book of darkness, Unwind, this is what happens to teenagers who are considered too much trouble by their parents. They’re erased, all their body parts recycled, disappeared. Unwound. They’re not dead, but they exist silent and helpless in a thousand different bodies where their organs, their hair, their fingernails and bones are donated and absorbed. Sure, many of them run – if they make it to 18 years old the government will quit the chase, they’ll be safe – but no one’s ever made it, they always get you. Unwind is the story of three teens who try to escape despite the odds, who run from the Unwind Order, their parents, and the police in a desperate attempt to save their skins – literally. It’s a suspenseful read with great chase scenes, action, and tense, paranoid drama (especially when they reach a secret, underground facility for runaway Unwinds). If anything, read this book for the horrifying scene in which one of the central characters gets unwound – the process is vividly depicted and…disarming, he-he....more
In this very moving graphic memoir, an award-winning children’s book illustrator recalls his harrowing 1950s childhood. At the mercy of a radiologistIn this very moving graphic memoir, an award-winning children’s book illustrator recalls his harrowing 1950s childhood. At the mercy of a radiologist father whose overzealous x-ray treatments do serious damage, and an angry, neglectful and uncommunicative mother, David Small flees home at sixteen to eventually find solace through his art, and some measure of understanding as he learns about his family’s troubled past. Haunting gray and white images perfectly capture a broken world. As Small put it, ”I know now that the graphic form was the only way my memoir could have been told.” On numerous “best” of the year lists, Stitches by David Small is enthusiastically recommended to adults and teens. ...more
What would you do with your life if you knew you only had a year to live? That's the question Ben Wolf, the hero of Chris Crutcher's excellent novel,What would you do with your life if you knew you only had a year to live? That's the question Ben Wolf, the hero of Chris Crutcher's excellent novel, Deadline, must ask himself when, early on in the book, he is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. His answer? Tell no one, go out for varsity football (despite being rail-thin, short, and the brother of the star QB), and pursue Dallas Suzuki, the most confident, athletic, and beautiful girl in school. Oh, and tirelessly challenge that thoughtless, conservative, authoritarian American Government teacher who's always getting on his nerves. This moving, funny, and compassionate book is that rare beast: a gripping, plot-driven read that weaves in heavy, controversial topics for discussion without once feeling didactic or forced. Ben's voice is irreverent, sarcastic, and independent. He's in a race to make life mean something and in only a short while (because that's all he's got) learns something about mistakes, weakness, selflessness and compassion for even the lowest of God's creatures. Crutcher's book is packed with memorable characters, touching relationships, and philosophical hot potatoes you'll be turning over for days. This is Crutcher at his very best. ...more
What is it about telling a story through the eyes of an animal? Why does it grip us, and erase our preconceived notions? Somehow despite being bipeds,What is it about telling a story through the eyes of an animal? Why does it grip us, and erase our preconceived notions? Somehow despite being bipeds, we can easliy put ourselves in their place.
The Pride of Baghdad is based on the true story of four lions who escaped from the Baghdad Zoo in 2003 during the bombing of Iraq. Safa, Zill, Noor, and little cub Ali find themselves outside the walls of their former home. All four feel very differently about where they are: Noor, exhilarated, Zill, ambivalent, little cub Ali confused, and wizened Safa reluctant.
As you turn the pages, you can feel the heat and desolation, the sand and dust coats your skin. Niko Henrichon’s drawings are amazing. The colors are both muted and vibrant. You feel as though you’ve been transported thousands of miles to the Middle East.interior pride of baghdad
Henrichon’s art is matched in skill by Brian K. Vaughan’s storytelling. It was Vaughan that was inspired to write the story of these four lions. He talks about it in an interview he gave to NPR.
Through the eyes of these lions we are able to glimpse the horror and reality of war. Some of the images and words are difficult to process. They stay with you long after you’ve turned the page....more