Sunday, March 18, 2007

Perfect Once Removed: When Baseball Was the World to Me by Phillip Hoose

Perfect Once Removed by Phillip Hoose is a book with many positive appeal factors. It is a childhood memoir, a genre that many readers enjoy. Its focus is his obsession with baseball, a sport with strong reader loyalty. The setting is interesting: Hoose remembers being an eight year old moving into Speedway, Indiana, where crowds come to attend the annual Indianapolis 500. The story line is also intriguing. He has moved for the fourth time in three years and joins the local third grade in the middle of the school year. He is having trouble making friends. When he learns that his cousin once removed is New York Yankee pitcher Don Larsen, he uses the connection to impress schoolmates and adults. Late in the story Larsen pitches the perfect game.

Hoose was a boy with a lot of imagination. Once he receives a card from his famous cousin, he begins to imagine scenes where the Yankee players are in the dugout or locker room talking about how he is doing in Little League. He creates a fantasy Mickey Mantle who is always asking Larsen about his little cousin's progress. Later, Hoose meets the Yankees in a hotel on a rainy Chicago day. How his image of Mantle changes only slightly is worth pondering.

Hoose is a very accomplished writer. You may have enjoyed his book The Race to Save the Lord God Bird. I did.

Thanks to Lori at the Downers Grove Public Library for recommending Perfect Once Removed. I enjoyed it a lot. Lori is adding the book to one of her new booklists.

You can label Hoose's book a "quick read" that is a "sure bet."

Hoose, Phillip. Perfect Once Removed: When Baseball Was All the World to Me. New York: Walker and Company, 2006. ISBN 0802715370

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