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Book of the Month


Baseball in April: and Other Stories, By Gary Soto

Summary | Awards | Reviews | In the Classroom | Related Readings | Bulletin Board



Harcourt Brace, 128 pp., Ages 9-12
Visit the Author's web site at http://www.garysoto.com/

The small events of daily life reveal big themes -- youth and age, love and friendship, success and failure -- in this unique collection of short stories. Calling on his own experience of growing up in California's Central Valley, Gary Soto paints the everyday experiences of contemporary young people. The smart, tough, and vulnerable kids in these short stories are Latino; their dreams and desires belong to all of us.

Awards and Citations for Baseball in April: and Other Stories

Parenting Magazine's Reading-Magic Award

California Library Association's John and Patricia Beatty Award

American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults

Booklist Editors' Choice
Horn Book Fanfare Selection

 

Excerpts from Reviews

From The Boston Globe
"A fine collection of stories that offers a different cultural perspective about feelings common to all teenagers. Soto writes well and with tremendous insight into the process of growing up."

From Los Angeles Times Book Review
"[Soto's] sensitivity to young people's concerns and his ability to portray the world as it is perceived by children is nothing less than remarkable."

From Horn Book
"Gary Soto is an astute observer of the desires, fears, and foibles of children and teenagers going about the business of daily living. In these eleven vignettes featuring Mexican-American families, the character portrayals are gentle; the tone is quiet and somewhat bittersweet; and respect for family is a consistent value. This illumination of the everyday will strike chords of recognition in readers of all ages."

In the Classroom

After students have read Baseball in April: and Other Stories encourage them to explore what it means to be a teenager in today’s society. Ask students to discuss, in small groups, the issues that concern them as teens. Encourage students to think about the factors, historical and otherwise, that determine how one comes of age in a particular community. Prompt students to write journal entries that contemplate what it means to be a teenager in the United States. What are some of the achievements and problems most teenagers’ face? In addition, have students think about other religious, social or ethnic groups – how does being a teen in that culture differ from the characters portrayed in the short stories?

Related Coming-of-Age Stories

Scorpions

By Walter Dean Myers

HarperCollins, 160 pp., Ages 12 and up

Newbery Honor Book

Jamal is afraid of the gang that rules his neighborhood, especially since it landed his older brother Randy in jail. But Randy wants the 12-year-old Jamal to take his place as the leader of the Scorpions. Even though his mother, sister, and best friend Tito try to talk him out of it, Jamal tries to be a stand-in for his brother. Violence soon erupts as the older gang members move in on him when Jamal tries to escape -- with the gun the Scorpions gave him.

Living up the Street: Narrative Recollections

By Gary Soto
Laurel Leaf, 176pp., Ages 12 and up

In a prose that is so beautiful it is poetry, we see the world of growing up and going somewhere through the dust and heat of Fresno's industrial side and beyond: It is a boy's coming of age in the barrio, parochial school, attending church, public summer school, and trying to fall out of love so he can join in a Little League baseball team.

Heaven

By Angela Johnson

Aladdin Paperbacks, 144 pp.,Ages 12 and up

Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award

"Marley thinks her life in Heaven, Ohio, is perfect and secure. But when she learns that her itinerant uncle is really her father and her loving ""parents"" are her aunt and uncle, she has to come to terms with her feelings of anger, betrayal, and curiosity as to who she really is. Foreshadowing, humor, and well defined characters work together to create a strong story about belonging and family." -- The Horn Book


Miracle’s Boys

By Jacqueline Woodson and Nancy Paulsen

Putnam Publishing Group, 192 pp., Ages 9 -12

"Even though it's been more than two years since his mother died, thirteen-year-old Lafayette continues to grieve by withdrawing into an inner world where he is haunted by his memories. Secretly he blames himself for his mother's death since he was the one to find her body after she sank into a diabetic coma. His twenty-two-year-old brother Ty'ree, mature and responsible, has some demons of his own: he witnessed the drowning death of their father before Lafayette was even born." –Horn Book

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