Given our boys’ interest in baseball, I am not sure why it has taken me so long to discover Dan Gutman’s Baseball Card Adventure series of books (which begins with Honus & Me). You’d think this series would have been a natural read-aloud fit for me over the years. My middle son has read a few, but it with my youngest son (8) that we have really dove into the series with great gusto and interest. In less than three weeks, we have devoured Honus & Me, Jackie & Me, Babe & Me, Shoeless Joe & Me, and Mickey & Me. Next up: Abner & Me.
The stories revolve around a boy, Joe Shoshack, who discovers that he can use baseball cards to travel back in time, and begins a series of adventures to meet famous players and/or attempt to change history. The structure of the books is fairly consistent throughout the series, which is great for discussing writing a novel with my youngest, and Gutman does a nice job of bringing those old ballplayers to life for us. I really have appreciated the Reader’s Note that Gutman leaves at the end of the books, where he talks about his research and about the lines he has drawn between fiction and non-fiction.
I am also enjoying how YouTube is part of our reading experience. When we were reading about Honus Wagner’s famous baseball card, we gathered up some information about the auction that brought in so much money for the rare piece of baseball memorabilia history. When we read about Jackie Robinson and racism, we watched a short documentary about the legendary ball player who changed history. When we were thinking about Babe Ruth’s “called shot,” we pulled up television footage to actually watch Babe in action at the plate as he hit that homerun (the results were inconclusive, we agreed.) And I now have Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary in our Netflix streamining account, ready to go.
I might soon tire of Gutman’s Baseball Card Adventure series, but my son is fully intrigued. And he is considering entering a local writing contest, where the prompt has them imagine going back in time 50 years. He has this idea now to use the Gutman books for the model for his story, finding a famous ballplayer from 1963 and writing about using one of his baseball cards to travel back to meet him. I love that.
Peace (on the ball),
PS — here is a cool video of Gutman being interviewed by a kid.