Atlanta : Peachtree, 2005
IL 3-6, RL 4.4
Wouldn’t it be great to have a professional baseball player give you personal pointers on your pitching style and batting technique? Twelve year old Charlie Nebraska isn’t the best baseball player in his town, but if professional Luther Peale helps him, Charlie knows he’ll get a lot better. Luther has even offered to coachCharlie’s team. It sounds like a perfect situation but there is a problem. This is the 1950’s and Luther is a black man and a stranger to the small Nebraska town. Not only that, but Luther has a secret. This is an exciting story about a boy fighting his family and neighbors for what he believes is right, even if doing so puts him in danger. (New Hampshire Great Stone Face 2007)
It is 1952 and I really wanted to make the Wildcats, Holden, Iowa's baseball team for eleven and twelve-year olds. I did happen to notice the stranger sitting on the bleachers observing us kids that day, but I didn't pay it any mind. Not at least, until I didn't make the team and after tryouts, heard the man speak about some tips. Boy, did I pay attention after that because somehow I realized that this guy knew his stuff about baseball.
There were only a few colored men I had ever seen in Holden before, and this guy was getting noticed. People in their cars and walking down the sidewalk stared at him, and it bothered me. My mother seemed to like this man, Luther Peale, when I introduced him to her, but my mother's so-called companion, Vern, did not. And, I myself, despised Vern even more than he didn't like Luther.
My name is
Charlie and I live
alone with my mother. My father is dead, I
think, from the war in
Korea, but I don't really want to believe it. It's
up to my mother and
I to make it in the world, but I can't help
wishing my father would come
back. Now, Luther is my friend, and I look
up to him, and so do the
kids who didn't make the team. But I can't
say much for some of the
parents because they are suspicious of his helping
us kids play better,
and Lobo, the large twelve-year old who is always
making me nervous and
calling me 'Stumptown'. It's almost like
everyone wants to find something
wrong with Luther. But why is Luther
traveling through our town?
Is Luther hiding something, and would he tell me
the truth as my friend?
Will the town refuse to give him a chance just
because he is colored?
Baseball -- Fiction.
Coaching (Athletics) -- Fiction.
Prejudices -- Fiction.
African Americans -- Fiction.
Single-parent families -- Fiction.
Iowa -- History -- Fiction.