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Sluggers #5: Blastin’ the Blues


Sluggers #5: Blastin’ the Blues

As the Payne children and the Travelin’ Nine ride the rails to St. Louis, the Chancellor’s thugs try to kidnap Graham and steal the magic baseball. Graham remains safe after the scuffle, but Griffith (Griff), Woody and Dog jump from the train to recover the special baseball.

During their separation from the team, Woody tells Griff about his experience with Colonel Teddy Roosevelt, what happened on San Juan Hill and the Rough Riders’ solemn promise to “Be together, always.” While Woody, Griff and Dog elude the Chancellor’s goon squad, Griff also learns about his father’s heroics in Cuba, how Uncle Owen got injured and how the magic baseball got the hole in its center.

As the Paynes seek to reunite with the rest of the team, they are followed by someone with a special connection and a grave warning to the Chancellor. While providing them nourishment, the mystery man reveals his identity and explains why the Chancellor is so desperate to possess the baseball and control Graham. By the time the trio arrives in St. Louis to rejoin the rest of the team, Griff has a better understanding about the magic baseball and events in the past --- and Dog has a new name.

In St. Louis, the team meets baseball pitching great Denton True “Cy” Young, who is called Cy because his fastball resembles a cyclone. During their brief stay in the Missouri town, Ruby is intent on identifying the mole, while the team continues to try and earn money to repay the mounting debt owed to the Chancellor. After leaving St. Louis, the team treks south on a steamboat down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. In the “Big Easy,” the stakes of the game grow higher, but the payoff could erase the massive debt owed to the Chancellor. However, the Chancellor isn’t going down without a fight. The evil mastermind fights dirty and plays to win.

BLASTIN’ THE BLUES, the meatiest book in the Sluggers series, has the same charm and passion as the previous installments. Old-school baseball terms are explained, and historic events are woven seamlessly into the plot. Except for a few passages of dialogue that slip into contemporary usage, it has a familiar, old-fashioned feel. One word of caution: the book ends on a sad note. Younger readers might find the final illustration and a scene in the last chapter upsetting. Nevertheless, BLASTIN’ THE BLUES should hit a home run with preteen readers who love mysteries with supernatural overtones or who are passionate about America’s favorite pastime.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on February 22, 2011

Sluggers #5: Blastin’ the Blues
by Loren Long and Phil Bildner

  • Publication Date: February 22, 2011
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1416918914
  • ISBN-13: 9781416918912