Synopses & Reviews
Both Maggie Fortini and her brother, Joey-Mick, were named for baseball great Joe DiMaggio. Unlike Joey-Mick, Maggie doesn't play baseball but at almost ten years old, she is a dyed-in-the-wool fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Maggie can recite all the players' statistics and understands the subtleties of the game. Unfortunately, Jim Maine is a Giants fan, but it's Jim who teaches Maggie the fine art of scoring a baseball game. Not only can she revisit every play of every inning, but by keeping score she feels she's more than just a fan: she's helping her team.
Jim is drafted into the army and sent to Korea, and although Maggie writes to him often, his silence is just one of a string of disappointments being a Brooklyn Dodgers fan in the early 1950s meant season after season of near misses and year after year of dashed hopes. But Maggie goes on trying to help the Dodgers, and when she finds out that Jim needs help, too, she's determined to provide it. Against a background of major league baseball and the Korean War on the home front, Maggie looks for, and finds, a way to make a difference.
Even those readers who think they don't care about baseball will be drawn into the world of the true and ardent fan. Linda Sue Park's captivating story will, of course, delight those who are already keeping score.
"Although the jacket image shows a girl at a baseball stadium, Newbery Medalist Park's (A Single Shard) Korean War era novel is best approached not as a sports story but as a powerful attempt to grapple with loss. Margaret Olivia Fontini, named after Joe DiMaggio ('Maggie-o, get it?'), loves Brooklyn's beloved but doomed Dodgers with a passion. When a new firemen arrives at her father's station wearing his allegiance to the arch-enemy Giants on his sleeve, Maggie keeps her distance until he teaches her how to score the game, a practice Maggie embraces with gusto, believing that recording every pitch and play might actually help Dem Bums finally win. And when Jim is drafted and sent to Korea, he and Maggie write, until Jim's letters abruptly stop. Park evokes the characters and settings with her customary skill and talent for detail; she shows unusual sensitivity in writing about war and the atrocity that, Maggie learns, has traumatized Jim into silence. Readers will be moved by Maggie's hard-earned revelation, that every instance of keeping score 'had been a chance to hope for something good to happen,' and that 'hope always comes first.' Ages 9-12." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Baseball fans will savor her first visit to Ebbets Fields, but this finely crafted novel should resonate with a wide audience of readers." School Library Journal
"Park's deeply layered plot is built as slowly and as meticulously as Maggie's scoring....A winner at every level." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[R]eaders will find plenty to root for as they get to know determined, persistent Maggie, who feels that the first words she ever learned must have been 'Wait till next year.'" Booklist
About the Author
Linda Sue Park is the author of the Newbery Medal book A Single Shard, many other novels, several picture books, and most recently a book of poetry: Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems). She lives in Rochester, New York, with her family, and is now a devoted fan of the New York Mets.