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The Lucky Baseball Bat: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition

Review

The Lucky Baseball Bat: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition

written by Matt Christopher, illustrated by Robert Henneberger

After reading the first couple of chapters of THE LUCKY BASEBALL BAT, I had to go back to the copyright page to see just when this book was written. After all, the hero of the story, a young boy named Martin and his younger sister Jeannie are invited into the house of Barry Welton, a teenager they had just met after Martin had an unfortunate incident on the ball field that left him sad and disillusioned.

Can you imagine something like this being written in 2004, without sinister consequences? But a brief look indicated that this engaging story was written in 1954; it has been re-released by Little, Brown to celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the first offering of the prolific children's author Matt Christopher.

Indeed, reading THE LUCKY BASEBALL BAT is like stepping into a time warp, similar to viewing an episode of "Leave it to Beaver" or "Father Knows Best." If only we could enjoy those simpler days again, when parents didn't have to worry (as much) about the intentions of strangers; when kids were grateful for small pleasures, such as succeeding in sports, without the distractions of television, computers, or other impediments to childhood. Martin's depiction, as well as the exposition of his family's relationship, is so foreign to modern sensibilities (unfortunately so) that Christopher could well have written his debut book in 1854.

Even the simple illustrations by Robert Henneberger denote an era long gone, before manga became the dominant expression artwork directed at young people.

Martin is the new kid in town, anxious to prove himself on the diamond. First impressions get him off to a poor start until Barry, a star athlete, gives him one of his old bats, which transforms the youngster into a hitting machine and helps change the minds of his formerly ambivalent teammates.

When the bat is broken during a game, Martin, with the help of some other newfound friends, learns that the power lies within him, not in a piece of wood. The lesson seems obvious in today's know-it-all world, but it still has a certain charm, at least to people of a certain age. Indeed, parents (and grandparents) might find this tale more enjoyable than their offspring.

Progress has offered kids and their families vast opportunities. Still, there's something to be said for the simple pleasures of a less hectic period.

Reviewed by Ron Kaplan on August 24, 2004

The Lucky Baseball Bat: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition
(Matt Christopher Sports #5)
written by Matt Christopher, illustrated by Robert Henneberger

  • Publication Date: August 24, 2004
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 031601012X
  • ISBN-13: 9780316010122