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Lance Woolaver
Illustrated by P. John Burden
Halifax, Nimbus Publishing, 1991. 167pp, paper, $8.95
ISBN 0-921054-71-8. (NewWaves). CIP

Grades 2 and up/Ages 7 and up

Reviewed by Catherine McInerney.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

A wonderful high interest/low vocabulary novel. The sport of baseball is of perpetual interest to young boys, who often experience frustration with the difficult reading level of many sports books. This novel should appeal to a wide audience.

In the story, Nicky-Come-Play-Ball is a boy who lives to play vacant-lot baseball. He plays on a team of boys and girls of various levels of ability. Nicky is a shrewd manager and is also very good at sizing up playing condi­tions. He helps his teammates capitalize on their strengths to improve their game.

It is good to see the team includes a female player, who is on the team because of hard work and fielding ability. The setting is unusual as well - a coastal town (as opposed to an urban setting). The baseball fields are all unique and are described in great depth. The novel has interesting illustrations, although their reproduction in black-and-white may not appeal to all chil­dren.

In the novel adults wreck the sport by trying to "improve" it. Changes to the playing field - eagerly accepted by the children - are actually leading up to the formation of an official little league network. This dampens the enthusiasm of the characters, who miss the spontaneity of their old league. The players opt out of the system (as many young people wish they could do) and re-establish their own rules. Their triumph over authority provides a satisfying conclusion.

The author, Lance Woolaver, has written two other children's books. This book is a part of a series ("NewWaves") from Nimbus Publishing of Nova Scotia. I sincerely hope that this press will keep up the good work and continue this series.

Catherine McInerney, London, Ont.
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