Heathas it all: Baseball at Yankee Stadium–the dream of Little Leaguers who practice within sight of it; Michael and Carlos, determined to keep “Official People” from finding out why Papi isn’t home; Ellie, a girl with a secret; Mrs. Cora who knows something about angels; the Little League coach who doesn’t like kids who pitch better than his son; and Michael’s best buddy, Manny.
Manny told Michael he’d meet him at Macombs…around three o’clock. …that could mean anywhere between three and four. He operated on Manny Standard Time, and there was no getting around it if you were Manny Cabrera’s friend. He was loyal, funny, smarter than he let on, loved baseball as much as Michael. There were so many good points with Manny that Michael couldn’t keep track of them all.
But none of Manny’s good points, not a single one, involved him showing up on time for anything but a real game.
When Michael is barred from Little League and Carlos no longer has a job, it’s looking bad, and suddenly, walking across the field, come the Official People:
It wasn’t just El Grande and Ellie.
Carlos was a couple of steps behind, walking with Mr. Gibbs of ACS. And another man Michael didn’t recognize, but one who had Official Person written all over him.
“Our neighbors once witnessed me take a metal mixing bowl and some household chemicals into the garage. After hearing a loud bang, they called the police, assuming I was attempting to manufacture drugs…What the neighbors didn’t know and my father eventually confirmed for the police was the truth: I was trying to work out the principles of explosive pulse propulsion in spacecraft for a science project. The police laughed, although my father made me spend a month’s allowance to replace the bowl.”
Remember Encyclopedia Brown? The ten-year-old boy detective? I didn’t discover him until our grandson showed me one of the 28 Encyclopedia Brown books, and then Grandpa and I shared those stories.
Colin Fischer is 14 and a high school freshman. Most of his classmates think he’s weird because he doesn’t think or react the way most kids do. Colin can’t “read” facial expressions the way most of us do, so he keeps index cards with smiley and other faces to help him figure out whether someone is joking, or scared, or angry, or what. Because he collects facts the way you might collect stamps or baseball cards, and because he’s curious about the ways other people behave, he finds out who shot off the gun at a birthday party.
This book is a window into the mind of a “different” kid. There’s a bully, there are friends, and there are kids who become better friends. The book ends with hints of trouble yet to come from the perpetrator of the crime, and I’d like to see how Colin’s conflict with his little brother turns out, but there isn’t a sequel–not yet…
Colin Fischer isn’t a quick read like the Encyclopedia Brown books. There’s one mystery (but several problems) solved in a full-length book for teen readers. The book is a bonus if you like odd facts, like the swimming patterns of hammerhead sharks or what is the Kuleshov effect.
Henry wants a bicycle. I have heard the answer from Henry’s parents myself, and as a parent I’ve had to tell our children the same: “I wish you [had one] too…but with prices and taxes going up all the time, I’m afraid we can’t give you one this year.”
So Henry, with help from his friend Beezus and interference from her little sister Ramona, tries to earn his bike. Along the way, teachers have a huge problem with bubble gum, Henry finds out how dog food tastes, and his school mates won’t let him forget about his coupon for free false eyelashes.