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Gordon Korman
New York, Scholastic, 1993. 195pp, cloth, $15.95
ISBN 0-59046230-X. Distributed by Scholastic Canada. CIP

Subject Heading:

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11

Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Volume 22 Number 1
1994 Jan/Feb

Korman's nineteenth book contains the delightful blend of ingredients that his pre-and early teen audiences have come to expect --humorous happenings involving likeable, zany characters placed in familiar, but somehow wacky, settings.

Told from the perspective of left fielder Corey Johnson, a wannabe pitcher, the book covers a season of the "Toilet Paper" Tigers, a Spooner, Texas, little league team sponsored by Feather-Soft Bathroom Tissue Inc. The Tigers, the draft's nine "loser-leftovers," are ineptly coached by Professor Pendergast a sixty-year-old physicist who, while a small particle expert knows absolutely nothing about baseball.

The Professor had only decided to coach because he thought his baseball involvement would allow Kristy, his visiting granddaughter, to meet some young people. New Yorker Kristy quickly reveals a Jekyll and Hyde personality. With her grandfather present, she is his "little princess," but in his absence, she becomes a diamond dictator. Kristy's control over the Tigers resides in the "candid" picture she snapped of the jockstrap-clad boys changing. The body-conscious adolescents wilt before Kristy's threat to paste copies of the unseen photo on every locker in their new junior high school.

Following an introduction to Coach/ Professor Pendergast, each of the book's remaining nine chapters focuses on one of the team's players and "Coach" Kristy's attempt to make that player a better contributor to the Tigers. For example, second baseman Tuba Dave Jablonski, a superb hitter, never reaches base safely because of his weight-impaired running. Tuba's adherence to Kristy's solution, a diet of stewed crabgrass, is closely monitored by his blackmailed teammates.

As Korman's middle school fans have come to expect this cast of oddballs and misfits eventually emerges winners but not before experiencing some hilarious happenings.

Highly recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches children's and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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