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King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige

Review

King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige

It’s 1935, and Satchel Paige is the hottest pitcher in minor league baseball. He is good enough to play for the pros, but he can’t due to his skin color. Segregation is still alive and well across the U.S. and in many organizations, including professional baseball. This season, Satchel is playing for the Bismarck Churchills, a minor league team from North Dakota. They are making a name for themselves, not only because they have “Satch” on their team, but also because the squad is integrated with both black and white players, something that’s virtually unheard of in this time period.

"Wes Tooke, an avid baseball fan, tells a good tale, weaving history and fact into this fictional story of a boy, a girl, and a great baseball player."

Nick’s dad is a catcher for the Bismarck Churchill team. Nick has been around baseball all his life, which, at the tender age of 10, isn’t a long time, but to him, it’s about all he knows. Last summer, he was the best little league pitcher in the state. This summer, he’s not sure he can play anymore because of his polio. The disease has affected his left leg, making it shorter and weaker than his right. He spent a year in the hospital, and now that he’s out and back home, he wants nothing more than to get back to the game he loves.

Unfortunately, the brace that his doctors told him to wear at all times until he's fully recovered doesn’t allow him to bend his knee, which he needs to do in order to balance properly on the pitcher’s mound. To make matters worse, his dad, a big, strong, tough guy, thinks he is now a “cripple” thanks to his brace and the limp that accompanies him when he walks.

But this summer is special: Satch is in town and playing on the team for the season. Neil Churchill, the team owner, has paid Nick’s medical expenses in exchange for Nick to do small jobs and run errands for Mr. Churchill. Nick doesn’t mind the work; in fact, he enjoys it because he gets to spend time with the guys on the team, especially Satch. The great pitcher takes the amateur pitcher under his wing and teaches him various things about baseball and about life.

Nick also develops a special relationship with Emma, the daughter of his dad’s landlady, Mrs. Landry. Emma likes baseball (even though she’s a girl) and shows Nick a thing or two about defying stereotypes and not giving up.

While KING OF THE MOUND is a work of historical fiction, Satchel Paige really did play for the Bismarck Churchills in 1935, and Mr. Churchill was the mayor of Bismarck until 1946. Wes Tooke, an avid baseball fan, tells a good tale, weaving history and fact into this fictional story of a boy, a girl, and a great baseball player. As an added touch, there are 18 chapters here, with baseball innings as titles --- the first chapter being “Top of the First” and the last “Bottom of the Ninth.”

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on June 1, 2012

King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige
by Wes Tooke

  • Publication Date: February 19, 2013
  • Genres: Children's, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Sports
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1442433477
  • ISBN-13: 9781442433472