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Great Illustrated Books

Summerland

By Michael Chabon

Miramax, 2004
Pages : 512
Suggested Ages: 11 and Up
ISBN: 9780786808779

Ethan Feld hates baseball. The whole league calls him "Dog Boy," because he's always wanting a walk-he's the worst player in the history of baseball. The day the Roosters face the Angels, the only people holding Ethan back from quitting for good are his father and the team's star, Jennifer T. (not Jennifer, or, worse, Jenny, but always Jennifer T.). Sensing that the excitable, red-faced Coach Olaffsen will put him in soon because of the team's unusual lead, Ethan checks to make sure no one's watching, and then scampers off. He trails the heels of a bushbaby-what was a bushbaby doing in Summerland?-and stumbles upon a weird scene that is the first of many as Ethan is introduced to the four otherworlds. A small, pony-tailed man is watching Ethan's encounter with the bushbaby. He introduces himself as Ringfinger. "Do you have a big ring finger?" Ethan reasoned. "No," the old man said, raising his leathery right hand. "I doesn't have no ring finger at all. You would not believe what kind of crazy motion I could put on a baseball without no ring finger."

Ethan soon finds his quitting the sport might have to be put on hold. "Did they send you to come get me?" he asks the old man. "As a matter of fact, they did," said Ringfinger Brown. "A long time ago." The ferishers, little creatures who ensure perfect weather for Summerland, have recruited Ethan to save Summerland. And they are just one brand of the curious animals and beasts that exist under everyone's nose. Ethan must journey in his father's Saab with Jennifer T., two native American fairies, a sasquatch, and a tiny giant to save Summerland, his own father, and even the world as the villain Coyote (an actual furry coyote) challenges him to history's most important baseball game. Ethan begins to rethink his position as right fielder along the way.

If baseball is becoming a thing of legend, Summerland takes the idea quite literally: most of the characters resemble folks from tall tales and ancient myths. Michael Chabon's foray into the young adult section, this book is an even 500 pages, and each is more colorful and wacky than the last-kids will bounce from one pick-up baseball game with mythological liars (starring John Henry and Paul Bunyon types) to the funny state of Ethan's father's captivity under Coyote. The audiobook makes a long car ride or series of car rides into an otherworldy adventure-by the end, kids will have a new found respect for baseball, the sport that saved the world.

Reviewed by : CH.

Themes : ADVENTURE & ADVENTURERS. BASEBALL. FANTASY. MYTHOLOGY. FOLKLORE.

If you love this book, then try:

Edwards, Julie. The Last of the Really Great Great Whangdoodles. HarperCollins, 1974.



L'Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time. Farrar, 1962.



Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. Knopf, 1996. (And others in the His Dark Materials series.)



Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Scholastic, 1998. (And other titles in the Harry Potter series.)



Sachar, Louis. Holes. Farrar, 1998.

Critics have said

Chabon hits a high-flying home run, creating a vivid fantasy where baseball is king.
Publishers Weekly