The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

August 3, 2007

Book review: Readers will cheer for sports-themed title

‘The Million Dollar Put’

By Dan Gutman (juvenile fiction)

Ed Bogard can learn just about anything he sets his mind to learn. He parasails and plays the guitar. He even rides a bike. Normally none of this would be out of the ordinary for a middle-school student. What makes Ed different is that he’s blind.

One day Hunter, a semi-bully, challenges Ed to a driving contest at one of the local golf courses. Ed has never been to the course; this is the one sport his dad refuses to encourage. Much to everyone’s surprise, Ed drives his ball the furthest. Ed seems to be a natural golfer.

With the help of Birdie, Ed’s nextdoor neighbor and new golf coach, Ed sneaks off to practice his swing and learns to putt. While practicing at the local course, one of the pros tells them about an upcoming competition just for kids with the winner earning $1 million. Ed doesn’t want to participate but changes his mind when he gets a personal invitation.

With Birdie’s help and encouragement, Ed makes it to the competition only to have Birdie suffer from heat stroke and rushed to the hospital. The competition ends in a tie between Ed and Hunter. With Birdie out, who will be Ed’s coach and eyes? Can Ed beat Hunter?

A wonderfully written sports book with characters you will cheer on to the very end.

‘One-handed Catch’

By MJ Auch (juvenile fiction)

Norman is any ordinary 11-year old going to school and working in the family store following World War II until one day, while helping his father behind the meat counter, Norm gets his hand caught in the grinder.

Norm is rushed to the hospital where the grinder is surgically removed. It takes him a couple of days to realize that, yes, he has lost his left hand. At first this is hard to accept. After all, Norm has dreams of playing big-league baseball. How will he do that now?

Norm’s mom refuses to let him slack off. He still has to take out the garbage and restock shelves. She even talks to his teachers the week before school starts to make sure they don’t let him off easy. This frustrates Norm but he soon learns that just because he has lost an arm, it doesn’t mean he can’t live a normal life.

Although fictionalized, this story is loosely based on the author’s husband’s life. MJ Auch’s husband, Herm, did lose a hand while working in his father’s meat market as a child and his mother refused to let him believe he was handicapped.

‘One the Wings of Heroes’

By Richard Peck (juvenile fiction)

Davy Bowman idolizes his dad and his older brother. His dad loves Halloween more than any kid in the neighborhood and Bill, his brother, flies B-17s.

All is well until World War II pulls the United States into war. Bill goes off to war, there are air-raid drills at school, food and gasoline is rations and Davy and his friend, Scooter, start collecting various things to help with the war effort.

Richard Peck does his usual wonderful writing, combining humor with the seriousness of the war to give a look at how this war affects Davy and his friends.

Susan Wray is the director of Joplin Public Library.