Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Aurora County All-Stars

The Aurora County All-Stars

Deborah Wiles
Fiction  Series
For ages 10 to 12
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007   ISBN: 978-0152060688

For the last year, while his friends played baseball, House Jackson has been spending his time doing something in secret. It all began when he, or rather Frances Shotz, broke House's elbow. The damage done to his elbow was severe enough that House had to forgo his beloved baseball for months. So, at his father's request, House went to read to old Mr. Norwood Boyd, who was bed-bound and not long for this world. House kept his activities a secret because he knew that the other kids in his town would not understand why he was doing this. After all, they all thought that Mr. Boyd ate children in his spare time.

Now Mr. Boyd is dead. House was with him when he drew his last breath. For his trouble House has inherited Mr. Boyd's elderly dog, Eudora Welty, and a book of Walt Whitman's poems, which used to belong to House's dead mother. House is pleased to have more time to himself, but at the same time the departure of Mr. Boyd is painful to him in a quiet kind of way.

Just when House begins to look forward to the summer ahead, and the annual Fourth of July baseball game, he and the other children are informed that the town of Hallelulia, Mississippi, is going to hold a 200th anniversary pageant on - yes you got it - the Fourth of July. All the members of the baseball team are furious and want to have nothing to do with the pageant, but their indomitable mamas are determined that all the boys on the All-Stars team will be participating in the show – no matter what.

To make it worse, House's old enemy, Frances Sholz, has been given the job of organizing the pageant. With her strange appearance, her affected way of speaking, and her bossy ways, Frances is even more difficult now than she was before she moved away to Jackson.

House and the boys do their best to get the mamas, and Frances, to let them play their annual game against the Smith County Raleigh Redbugs, but there does not appear to be any room for compromise. Tempers flare and feelings are hurt when arguments break out. Can House find a way to save his beloved game, the one he has been waiting to play for so many months?

With the words of Walt Whitman to help him, and the support of one of Mr. Boyd's baseball-loving friends, House does his best to find a solution to the sticky problem that faces him. A friend's betrayal and his own elbow's weakness does not help the situation at all, but House is not ready to give up yet.

Young baseball fans will greatly enjoy this story, which perfectly captures the love that one boy has for the game. As he negotiates his way through what promises to be a very difficult summer, House learns a great deal about himself and about the people in his town. He discovers that the old man whom he read to for all those months had a rich life that was full of stories. He also learns that that same old man was very wise, and even though he is now dead, he is still touching the hearts and minds of the people in the town of Halleluiah.

Full of quotations from Walt Whitman's writings and poems, and peppered with the words of famous baseball players, this is a book that will give readers a great deal to think about.

This is the third book that Deborah Wiles has written about the people and events in Aurora County. The other titles are  Each Little Bird that Sings and Love, Ruby Lavender.