Jackson hits a home run as the inspired choice to read Wiles's (Each Little Bird That Sings ) latest, a heartfelt story with baseball at its center. Her slightly raspy voice, shaded with an occasional twang, is perfect for bringing to life the cast of memorable--and colorfully named--characters of a rural town in Mississippi. Using a leisurely storytelling rhythm, the narrator makes listeners feel old friends, taking them along as 12-year-old baseball fanatic House Jackson discovers some long-held secrets--both in his own family, and in the town of Aurora--and how they all finally fit together. Wiles explores issues of death and loss, art versus. sport and the dynamics of true community with humor and tenderness. As a bonus, listeners can hear the slightest chuckle or almost hear a thoughtful smile in Jackson's voice as she reads the quotes from baseball greats and from Walt Whitman that open each chapter. Ages 8-up. (Aug.)[Page 64]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gr 5-7-- National Book Award finalist Deborah Wiles's third book (Harcourt, 2007) is the story of House Jackson, 12-year-old star pitcher and team captain of the Aurora County All-Stars. The boy has been sidelined for the past year by a broken elbow, and he's kept it a secret that he spent every afternoon reading to the mysterious old recluse all the other kids have call Mean-Man Boyd. After the elderly man's death and with a healed arm, House is ready to play ball again. Unfortunately, the only game of the year that's left to play falls on the same day as Aurora County's 200th anniversary pageant, an event that has been planned by Frances Shotz, the very girl who was responsible for breaking House's arm. In the ensuing standoff, House learns that just about everyone in Aurora County has a secret or two. Kate Jackson's raspy, southern-tinged voice is clear and she interjects lots of emotion into her reading, adjusting her voice to reflect the different characters. Sure to be a hit with baseball fans.--Kathryn Tvaruzka, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire[Page 68]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.