Sarah's Stars

Ellen Schwartz.  Stealing Home
Tundra Books  $12.99  ISBN 0-88776-765-6  214 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 12

Bobbie poked her head into the hall closet and came out with a baseball, a bat and two gloves. She held out the older-looking of the two. "You want to use this glove? It was my daddy's."

Joey flushed. "Nothing's wrong with my glove!"

"I didn't say there was. Sheesh! Just thought you might like to try it, that's all."

Joey looked closely at her. She didn't appear to be making fun of him. He glanced at the glove. Holy cow. He clung to his pride for five seconds, then reached for it. "Okay," he said offhandedly, "just for a change."

Rawlings. Just seeing the fabled name stitched across the back sent a shiver up his spine. The glove was the color of wood that has weathered in the rain and wind, golden-brown turned a warm gray. It had the texture of aged leather, soft and supple. He slipped his hand inside. It was big, but still it felt as though his hand was made to go inside. The pocket pressed reassuringly against his palm. A thin band of webbing stretched protectively across the gap between the thumb and first finger. He lifted the glove to his face. It smelled of dirt and grass, sweat and sun.

Joey Sexton has nowhere to go; his mother just died and his father left when he was young. Despite all this, the boy clings to the daydream that his famous dad will realize his son needs him and rush back home. His social worker, Miss MacNeill, uncovers his mother's real last name and a lost family. He's sent to Brooklyn where his new family lives and is thrust into an interesting, complex story as he struggles with new rules, racial tension and his stern grandfather. Immediately his cousin, Roberta, asks him if he likes baseball, but frowns upon his love for the Yankees when he's in Dodgers’ territory.

As I read this book I was completely drawn into the characters and the plot. Joey’s struggle to adjust to his new religion, family and lifestyle, while trying hard to win his grandfather's approval; Bobbie's (Roberta) quirky, sassy attitude; Aunt Frieda's loving character as she slowly grows from a meek woman to a confident one who is willing to stand up for her coloured nephew; and Zeyde's hard personality, while he tries to come to terms with the past and with his new grandson; as well as a cast of other lovable characters like, Grossie, Joey and Bobbie's tubby sidekick, newspaper articles of Jackie Robinson as Joey slowly begins to admire the Dodger's baseball star and the fond memories of Joey's "Mama".

Set in 1947, this is a fantastic book by well-known author, Ellen Schwartz who wrote such novels as the Starshine series, Jesse's Star and the picture book, Mr. Belinsky's Bagels. Her writing was simple yet intriguing and the plot draws you in from the touching scene with Zeyde and Joey in the Bronx to the exciting part where Joey, Bobbie and friends attempt to sneak into the Dodger's baseball stadium. The adventures of Joey with his new family are exciting, funny, heart-warming and interesting. I recommend this book to any 8 -14 year old or pretty much anybody who likes a good read about baseball and belonging.

I picked this book up expecting just another clichéd story about how some random kids learn the "power of friendship" and belonging by playing sports but Stealing Home proved me wrong. The story was fresh, exciting and you can relate to the characters. It's usually light-hearted but there are tender moments and times when you want to scream at Zeyde or hug Joey. It was also funny how Joey refuses to believe that he's starting to warm up to the Dodgers.

I give Stealing Home five stars.

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