Magic in the Outfield (Sluggers 1)

6:00 AM Posted by Lori Calabrese

Previously published as Barnstormers: Game 1, Magic in the Outfield (Sluggers) is an old-time baseball story that is a must-read adventure.

The story begins as Griffith, Graham, and Ruby have just attended their father's funeral, and the siblings are left with many questions.

"Mother said we're going to be barnstormers. What does that mean?" Ruby asks. Uncle Owen explains that barnstorming is when folks travel around the country presenting plays, giving lectures, or performing exhibitions like dancing, tightrope walking, or baseball.

Turns out, barnstormers can make a lot of money which is why the kids must join their mother and their father's wartime traveling baseball team, The Travelin' Nine, on a tour of America. No one will tell the kids why the team needs money so badly. Their only clue is a baseball with a hole the size of an acorn in it that their Uncle Owen gives to them the night of their father's funeral. They know very little about its significance except that their father made it with his own two hands and carried it with him throughout the war.

Uncle Owen not only entrusts them with the ball, but lets them know that great danger lies ahead and they need to be together, always.

In this first book in the series, the Travelin' Nine head to Cincinnati to take on the local team. As the game progresses,the kids learn that when all three of them hold the ball, strange things happen. What would you think if a massive locomotive came thundering in the outfield during a baseball game? To make it even more mysterious, only the Travelin' Nine and the kids are the ones to witness the marvel.

Since this is the first book in the series, many questions are left unanswered that make you want to pick up Sluggers 2. The story ends with the siblings and the team questioning the strange occurrences and preparing to board a steamboat that will take them to Louisville for their next game.

What I love about this book is the mystery involved. It's enough to keep you satisfied, but also enough to make you want to read on. You get a feel for old-time baseball with baseball lingo defined in the margins, and you're pulled into a magical world where strange things are abound. Loren Long's illustrations are absolutely amazing and add to the allure and mystery. It's a book that will appeal to any baseball lover, but also those interested in mystery and fantasy.

Read an Excerpt.

About the Authors
Loren Long has received two gold medals from the Society of Illustrators. His first picture book, Angela Johnson's I Dream of Trains, won the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' Golden Kite Award for illustrations. His interpretation of Walt Whitman's When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer won a Golden Kite Honor. He illustrated Madonna's #1 New York Times bestseller Mr. Peabody's Apples and a new edition of Watty Piper's The Little Engine That Could. He is also the illustrator of the New York Times bestselling series, Sluggers! Loren lives in West Chester, Ohio, with his wife, Tracy, and two young sons, Griffith and Graham.

Phil Bildner is the author of the New York Times bestselling Sluggers! series, the Texas Bluebonnet Award-winning Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy and its companion, The Shot Heard 'Round the World, both illustrated by C. F. Payne; and Twenty-One Elephants, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. His latest picture book is Turkey Bowl, illustrated by C.F Payne. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Additional Information:
Author: Phil Bildner
Illustrator: Loren Long
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (February 24, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416918841
ISBN-13: 978-1416918844
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