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Set aside a special place for children to keep their own books.
Summary: Joe Joe Rawlings is ten years old. He has a dilemma: his best friend is starting to hang out more with kids who get in trouble. When he goes to the neighborhood store, the shopkeeper accuses Joe Joe of being part of the gang who trashed his store just minutes before he arrived. He is devastated and very angry. He takes his book about the Negro Baseball League and Cool Papa Bell and decides to read to calm down. The story helps Joe Joe understand his situation and find the courage to stand up for himself. This is the first book in a series about urban life and the choices kids are faced with these days.
Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 6 to 9; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 8 to 10
Reading Level: 3.8
Age of Child: Read by a 10-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: I liked the book and enjoyed learning about the different baseball players. I wanted to read it again, but not right away. Because the book read about something he liked, it made it easy to read. One thing you learn about from this book is self esteem.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a story that has something to offer all children, both in the history it offers about the Negro Baseball League, as well as on a more individual level (e.g., understanding emotions).
Pros: Kids (particularly upper elementary ages) will easily relate to Joe Joe's situation. Like Joe Joe, they may be inspired to learn about other great Americans and how they handled difficult situations.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a worthwhile. Our 10-year-old reader recommends it for a friend who plays baseball.
Educational Themes: This is a book that can be enjoyed one-on-one or in a classroom setting. There are opportunities to talk about history and discrimination on a broader level, as well as more personal themes: self-esteem, integrity, dealing with adversity, handling (and understanding) emotions, etc. Don't forget the idea of talking about the consequences of our choices, because this story allows you to talk about POSITIVE consequences, too.
Literary Categories: Fiction - baseball, sports, multicultural, Christian, contemporary, urban, Black History, picture book series, life lessons