________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 40. . . .June 13, 2014


Curve Ball. (Sports Stories).

John Danakas.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2014.
192 pp., pbk. & epub, $9.95 (pbk.), $7.95 (epub).
ISBN 978-1-4594-0593-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4594-0595-0 (epub).

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4



ďWell, Tommy, I guess itís time to sign you up on a baseball team so this summer wonít be all work for you.Ē

Thatís exactly what I want to hear. I flash on a vision of me in a batterís stance at home plate in a Little League game.

ďI canít wait to take a few swings in a real game,Ē I say to Uncle Nick. ďJust to feel the bat smack the ball.Ē

A puzzled expression passes over Uncle Nickís face, and he scratches his ear. He looks like Iíve just shoved a Rubikís Cube into his hands

ďTommy, I wish I knew something about baseball,Ē he begins. ďYouíre going to be playing on the team this summer, and Iíll come watch as many of your games as I can, but I wonít understand a thing thatís going on. Not a thing. Iíve been in Canada now for almost twenty years and I know about football and hockey. But baseball?! Iíve tried to watch baseball on TV a hundred times and I still donít know what theyíre doing.Ē


Twelve-year-old Tom Poulos is being forced to leave his home in Toronto for the summer. His single parent mom is making him stay with his uncle in Winnipeg. Tom would like to stay home and celebrate his baseball teamís victory, but his mom doesnít want him to be home alone for the summer while she is working. Tomís expectations for the summer are crushed though when he finds out his Uncle Nick canít coach him in baseball (because he doesnít know anything about the sport), and when heís put on a community baseball team in Winnipeg for kids older than himself. Heís happy to be playing catcher, but, after the first practice, he discovers the best player on the team is a girl, and the pitcher throws curve balls he canít catch. Tom is embarrassed, and he wants to give up, just like his Uncle Nick. Uncle Nickís hamburger restaurant has lost most of its customers to Super Burger. Nick is on the verge of selling the place. He feels he canít compete with the new, flashier restaurant just across the street. But when Kelly, the third baseman on Tomís team, befriends Tom and practices catching with him, Tom is convinced both he and his uncle cannot give up. They make a deal. Tom will be the best catcher he can be if Uncle Nick is the best cook he can be.

     There are quite a few scenes throughout the book that involve baseball games. The pitcher is not always on his best behaviour, but Tom does score the winning run in the championship game. The other memorable scenes involve Uncle Nickís burgers which end up winning a ďprizeĒ too. Danakas includes instances of good sportsmanship in this book (when Tom has to sit out of a game, he loans the catcher his new glove), and Danakas gives his main characters flaws, thereby allowing children to see a bit of themselves in the story. Sports fans of either gender are the obvious audience for this book.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.