This is Feature Shelf, a series that provides book recommendations based on theme or title suggestions. This shelf was on a list I received from Ms. Williams’s 7th grade English class. So this is Feature Shelf #39, the Baseball Edition. My name is Eli, I’m also called the (book) supplier. Thanks for watching.
Let’s get this party started, eh? The first book Heat by Mike Lupica. Michael Arroyo is from Cuba, is 12 years old, and wants nothing more than to play in the Little League World Series. Other people with interests in baseball say he can’t throw that hard as a 12 year old. But his father died and his brother can’t find his birth certificate and if social services finds out they’ll either be separated or sent back to Cuba. Great story about passion and adversity.
The second book on our baseball shelf is Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Pena. Danny is an amazing pitcher. Except that he can’t manage to play on a team — he freezes up on the mound. Danny’s also a Mexican Whiteboy. Half white, half Mexican and he’s not sure where he fits. He’s too Mexican for the white kids and too white for the Mexican kind. He’s spending the summer with his cousins and hustling baseball to save money to find his father in Mexico. If you’re a fan of coming of age stories about not only baseball, but also about identity – figuring out who you are – Mexican Whiteboy is a good pick for you.
I’ve had a few students read and enjoy The Big Field by Mike Lupica. Hutch is a shortstop. His father was a shortstop before he got hurt and couldn’t play anymore. When Hutch gets moved to second base to make space for another player — a player his father shows interest in when he couldn’t manage to make it to Hutch’s games — Hutch feels betrayed. The questions are: Can Hutch and his father repair their relationship? Can Hutch be a good teammate and help his team with the championship from second base? Or will everything fall apart?
The fourth book on our shelf is High Heat by Carl Deuker. Pitcher Shane Hunter lived a privileged life. His family had money, he went to private school — things were looking really good for Shane. That is until — and there’s always and until — his father gets into some trouble and they lose all their money. Now Shane’s going to public school, and he’s dealing with a colossal change: his father’s actions, moving to public school, losing his love for baseball. And it’s not only a story about baseball, but a story about loss and redemption.
The last book on our shelf this week is We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson. Ms. Smith, one of the librarians at my school, recommended this one to me a few years ago and it was amazing. I knew the Negro Leagues were a thing — there weren’t black players in the modern MLB until 1947 — but I didn’t know how many teams were in the Negro Leagues or what life was like for black players from the 1920s to the late 1940s/early 1950s.
So that’s five books you may enjoy if you’re a baseball fan: Heat, Mexican Whiteboy, The Big Field, High Heat and We Are the Ship.
For the Feature Shelf archives and show notes, both video and podcast, or to request your own Feature Shelf check out thebooksupplier.com/featureshelf. You can also send me requests on Facebook or Twitter at thebooksupplier (all one word) or an email at thebooksupplier at gmail dot com. Oh, and the podcast for this shelf has some other recommendations that don’t appear on this shelf, so check that out as well.
I’m going to leave you there now, dear readers. Thanks for watching to Feature Shelf #39: The Baseball Edition. As always, I am the supplier wishing you happy reading. Don’t forget to be awesome.