Rummanah Aasi
  One of my family's favorite movies is The Sandlot, which was made in 1993. The movie is told from Scotty Small's perspective on his summer when moved to a new neighborhood with his mom and stepdad, and wants to learn to play baseball. There he makes friends with the local Sandlot and falls into all sorts of misadventures involving baseball, a mysterious neighbor, and a legendary ball-eating dog called "The Beast". I thought of the movie frequently when I read The Aurora City All Stars by Deborah Wiles because they both share similar themes.

Description: House Jackson is the team captain and star pitcher of the Aurora County All-Stars. He is finally able to play again after being sidelined for a year with a broken elbow, however, the game may not be played at all due to the county's 200th anniversary pageant. You see the game is scheduled on the same day as the pageant, which is spearheaded by the very girl who caused Jackson's injury. Both are determined to have their way, but only one event can take place. Will they be able to compromise and work things out?

Review: The Aurora County All Stars is an enjoyable and quick read. There are many themes and subplots that occur in this small county in Mississippi. Wiles combines mystery, history, baseball facts, and poetry into her story without losing the reader's interest and dragging the story down. Amongst all the elements that the author includes, I love how she subtlety incorporates Whitman's poetry in her story without dumbing it down to her readers or her characters. Plus, the way that House resolves the central conflict is very original and fun to read about. I didn't think his plan would work out, but I was pleasantly wrong.
   The setting and characters of a rural county in Mississippi are charming. I loved their dialect and think this book would be a fun read aloud. I did, however, felt as if all the characters knew one another but I didn't. While I did like House and his relationship with his family and best friend, I thought the other characters were a bit flat. It is not until I finished the book that I discovered that The Aurora County All Stars is actually the third book in her Aurora County trilogy. The first book in the trilogy is Love, Ruby and the second book Each Book that Sings was a National Book Award finalist. I plan on reading the other two books.
  The Aurora County All Stars is a charming tale about friendship, history, family love and loyalty, and listening to ones heart. I think kids who like or play baseball will open their arms to this book and ask for more.

Curriculum Connection: Social Studies and English/Poetry


Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for strong Grade 3 readers to 6th grade. 

If you like this book try: Honus & Me or Jackie & Me by Dan Gutman
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