Saturday, February 23, 2008

Paul Haven

Two Hot Dogs with Everything
by Paul Haven
Recommended Age: 10+

This one is for all the obsessed baseball fans out there. You know who you are. You know every statistic on every player in the history of your favorite team. You watch every game, whether they're winning or losing. And you indulge in rituals and superstitious behavior - anything to help your team along. The Sluggers, losingest team in the major leagues, have such a fan in Danny Gurkin. He avoids stepping on sidewalk cracks, eats two fully-loaded hot dogs before every game, and strategically uses clothes, body language, and the activities of his family to give the Sluggers every chance he can. Even so, they haven't had a shot at the league pennant since the team's founding manager, bubblegum magnate Manchester Boddlebrooks, choked to death on a ballpark pretzel 108 years ago.

Danny is convinced he can make a difference. And somehow, he finally does, after visiting the condemned Boddlebrooks mansion (with its baseball-bat-shaped towers) and stealing a handful of pieces of a new flavor of gum Boddlebrooks was working on when he died. Now, simply by chewing this disgusting, century-old gum, Danny's obsession becomes the magic the Sluggers need. His dedication to the team makes him first a local celebrity, then a team mascot...but it costs him his friends.

Meanwhile, the owner of the Texas Tornadoes has started to sweat. He realizes that Danny Gurkin is the reason the Sluggers can't lose. And he intends to use all of his considerable power and money to neutralize this threat.

If you liked The Boy Who Saved Baseball, consider reading this book. It's like a whimsical "Thinking of You" card to young baseball nuts everywhere. It injects a loopy kind of magic into the world of sports, the magic that lives in the hopes and dreams of kids like Danny Gurkin.

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