Hey, guys, I've recovered now from my exertions from the 48 Hour Book Challenge and am now, of course, crowned with honor for my MANLY achievements over the weekend. Actually, I finished two really good books then and would like to tell you about them.
The first was Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues by Patricia C. McKissack and
Frederick McKissack, Jr. and was quite a good read. Baseball is an iconic, even mythic, American sport and the people who played it, especially in the old days, were larger than life. That's why books on the old days of baseball are so much fun to read. So I enjoyed this one and reading about fascinating people I'd never heard of and learning new things about famous players I thought I knew everything about. Baseball goes back a long time(some of George Washington's troops played a version of it) and was so popular after the Civil War that it organized into professional leagues. Of course, racial prejudice was strong back then too. A few African-American players got in and even earned some respect but the haters were too strong and there were too many of them, so African-Americans were barred from professional leagues. With all the resilience of oppressed peoples everywhere, however, they formed their own leagues and even held their own World Series. And they had some incredible players! Get this book and you'll read about James Thomas "Cool Papa" Bell, "the fastest runner who ever stole a base", Walter "Stretching Buck" Leonard who "posed a threat every time he approached a plate" and you'll also get the inspiring story of Jackie Robinson, the sad story of Josh Gibson and the incredibly long and successful career of the amazing Satchel Paige. As I said, these guys were larger than life and this book does a good job telling their stories.
Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. Wow, oh, wow, did I ever enjoy this one! Have you ever gotten so
caught up in a book that the rest of the world seems to disappear? That's exactly what happened to me as I read this one. And it's all based on a true story! In 1841, Manjiro, a Japanese boy, is on a fishing boat with other guys from his village when a storm drives them out to sea. they wreck on a lonely island, not much more than a piece of rock, and are at starvation's point when an American whaling boat rescues them. Now they can go back home, right? Wrong! Japan is closed off to the rest of the world and anyone who leaves can be imprisoned. So here he is, stuck on a ship full of "foreign barbarians" but he eventually learns their language and their ways and comes to like them. The captain likes him too and takes Manjiro home as a son. But can he ever be a part of this new land? Everyone is good to him in America (well, not quite everyone) and it really is a land of opportunity and freedom but he's still too different to fit in. He misses his family wants to go back to Japan but will he be imprisoned if he does? You've got to read this one to find out! This is a truly terrific book, one of the best I've read in a long time--maybe even the best book this year. It will pull you in and make you keep reading until the very final page. And just wait until you see how the true story ties in with the fictional one! I finished this book with a big smile.
Speaking of reading, did you know you could get cool stuff for reading this summer? You sure can by signing up for the Summer Reading Program with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. This year's theme is Fizz, Boom, Read and has a SCIENCE theme!That means there will be lots of cool programs going on at your local library, so go by there and find out. Of course, you could read anything you want this summer--fiction, graphic novels, nonfiction, biographies, magazines, whatever. You'll get great stuff for signing up and for reading 10 and 20 hours. You have until August 9 to do so but don't waste any time! Summer can go by quickly, so head on down to your local Charlotte Mecklenburg library and sign up for Fizz, Boom, Read!