I am reviewing two books this week, one middle-grade and one young adult. I really liked them both so would like to get the word out about them. I’ll be giving one away, so stay tuned for that.
The first book I want to talk about is Ted & Me by Dan Gutman. This is a middle grade novel that is eleventh book in a series called the Baseball Adventures. I can’t believe I didn’t discover this series sooner. I LOVE this book! If the others are even close to this good, I will be reading them all.
Joe Stoshack, Stosh to his friends, is a thirteen-year-old, baseball playing All-American kid. But there is another piece to him. He can time-travel and his vehicle is baseball cards. If he holds a Honus Wagner card, for instance, from the year 1910, he will travel to wherever Honus Wagner is at that time. Pretty cool, huh? Only a few people – his mother, father, uncle, and coach – know about his ability, and yet, one day an agent from the FBI shows up on their doorstep and knows about Stosh’s time traveling. We never find out how the FBI knows, but that is just about the only glitch in this book. The agency wants Stosh to go back in time to warn FDR about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The agent claims it will save millions of lives. He leaves a signed Ted Williams card for Stosh and asks him to think it over. Stosh’s mother says it’s his decision. Interestingly enough, Stosh’s coach is against it. He feels if the bombing of Pearl Harbor never happens, the U.S. won’t get into the war, Hitler will win, millions more will be killed, etc., etc. But Stosh’s uncle tells him a story of a missed opportunity, and Stosh decides he should go for it.
Stosh holds onto the Ted Williams card and finds himself in an airplane that is taking fire. He finds out he is an a plane being piloted by Ted Williams during the Korean War. They crash-land and, before things can go up in flames, Stosh grabs a modern baseball card from his pocket (he always carries some just in case) and travels back to the present. It turns out the FBI agent didn’t bother to check the year on the Ted Williams card and had given Stosh a 1953 card. He brings a 1941 card, and Stosh starts his journey anew. Can he complete this important mission? Is it the right thing to do? You’ll have to read it to find out. I’m not telling. But I will leave you with this. Ted & Me is so well researched and well written, you will enjoy every word. Even if you are a big baseball fan, as I am, you will learn a lot about the game from this book. Oh, and I bet you will learn something you never would have guessed about someone seen as a great American hero – Charles Lindberg – that might just change the way you think of him.
However, I’m not giving this book away. My grandson, whose given name is Gehrig and who is a terrific baseball player, will be getting my copy. I think he will love it.
The YA book I’m reviewing is Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator. The book opens at the funeral of Guy’s father. Guy and his father were very, very close and this is a terribly sad time for Guy. So how is it, you might ask, that one would be laughing out loud before the short chapter is over? I don’t know, but the author, Josh Berk, is flat funny. You know, one of those people who know how to put the fun back in funeral.
Guy, who happens to be Jewish, is talked into joining the after school forensics club by his best friend, Anoop, who is of East Indian descent (and breaks any stereotypes people might have about that) so Guy can meet the girl of his dreams. I love quirky side-kick characters, and Anoop is the best I’ve read in a long time. (The best side-kick character is from another hysterically funny YA – the character of Victoria in Robin Benway’s laugh-out-loud Audrey, Wait! If you haven’t read that, do!) Anyway, back to Guy Langman. Guy is left with very little from his father – some advice and three gold coins. Guy tries to work through his grief by writing a book about his father and his witty advice. He and Anoop also keep busy with the forensics club and girls. When the three gold coins are stolen from Guy’s house, the club decides to solve the crime. The club also gets involved in a forensics competition and finds a dead body, another crime they think they can solve. Now things really get interesting.
This book is convoluted and complex and, did I mention, FUNNY? I not only highly recommend it, but I am going to offer my gently-read copy to one of my lucky readers. Just leave a comment at the end of this post. If you tweet the link to this post or post it on Facebook or put the link in your blog, let me know, and I will give you an extra entry.