Author: Kevin Christofora
Illustrator: Dale Tangeman
Review of Arc Copy
Very often, teaching baseball skills to youngsters doesn’t always translate well into print. Nonetheless, the three books published under The Hometown All Stars series authored by Kevin Christofora and illustrated by Dale Tangeman have not only managed to succeed splendidly, but also serve as an excellent compliment to live hands on teaching. In addition, the books are easy to understand and provide a thorough explanation of various important baseball techniques in a clear and fun manner.
In their most recent tome, TGIT Thank Goodness It’s T-Ball Day emphasis is placed on the skill of throwing and pitching. According to Christofora, “what inspired the writing of this book was from the actual teaching technique of kids making the letter “T” with their bodies to learn how to throw.”
Once again the tale focuses on the principal character Nick who begins by narrating how one of his teammates Kareem loves to pretend he was playing the guitar before going home from school. On one particular day, Kareem rides on the bus with Nick to the latter’s home, where both boys immediately do their homework and eat Nick’s favorite snack, apple wedges with peanut butter to dip them in. The boys are very excited to get to their baseball practice thus prodding them not to “dilly dally” and finish their homework as soon as possible.
As soon as they reach the baseball field, the coach tells the kids to put their water bottles on the bench and line up on the fence.
To begin the practice and to introduce the kids to pitching, the coach introduces a baseball card of the legendary Cy Young who was known as one of the best-ever pitchers in baseball and was one of the first pitchers to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
When one of the players, Flo raises her hand and asks if they can now do their warm-ups, the coach smiles and admits that he was so excited with the Cy Young baseball card that he almost forgot. As Flo was a very good leader, the coach asks her initially t3o lead the team, after which Carlos takes over and leads the kids in doing two laps around the bases.
The actual teaching of the baseball throwing technique begins at the throwing station where each player places their feet in the white marked off circles facing the coach. Nick recounts to his readers that he and his teammates stood like a letter “T” and pointed their baseball gloves at their target. They next rocked back toward the ball and forward to throw the ball. The coach reminds not to have spaghetti arms but rather to keep their arms straight and away over their head when they throw, just like a windmill. Not understanding that a windmill had to do with throwing, the coach grabbed his clipboard and drew a picture of one. The analogy of the windmill does enlighten the kids and they now understand that no spaghetti arms means keeping your arms straight just like a windmill. When one goes up, the other goes down. An excited Nick exclaims that they practised over and over again, turning sideways, making a letter “T,” point their gloves, rocking backwards, rocking forward and finally throwing.
Once again this latest addition to The Hometown All Stars series takes the form of an instructional narrative directed to the young reader, rather than just passively recounting Nick’s and his teammates experience learning how to pitch.
The prose is direct and amiable, never condescending, and what helps in making this book really digestible is the effective illustrations and spacious layouts. Tangeman’s characteristic cartoon-style illustrations, rendered in watercolors are eye-catching and lighten the text without minimizing the message. Christofora and Tangeman understand how to appeal to the minds of young readers and deliver all the subtle points of interest to keep this book on the bedtime list.
A short quiz is included as well as a description of three wristbands that contain different messages, honor, respect and being part of your community. This thoughtfully crafted book is a treat to read to youngsters and the manner in which the information is presented keeps it from being too dry and uninteresting.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Follow Here To Read Norm’s Interview With Kevin Christofora