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The Bat Boy and His Violin


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About the Author

Gavin Curtis was born in New York City. His love of writing and drawing developed very early. In elementary school, he created comic books to entertain his friends. When he got older, Gavin went to college at the School of Visual Arts. There, he studied cartooning with renowned storyteller Will Eisner, and even collaborated with Mr. Eisner on two covers for the school's comic book magazine Gallery. He also studied children's book illustration and created the book dummy for his first picture book, Grandma's Baseball. When Gavin finished school, he began working for Marvel Comics where he drew and eventually wrote many stories. He also completed graduate school to get his master's degree in education and become an elementary school teacher. Today, an educator, writer and illustrator, Mr. Curtis continues to push himself creatively.

E.B. Lewis is the award-winning illustrator of such books as Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard, which was a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, and This Little Light of Mine. He received the Caldecott Honor for Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes. E.B. Lewis lives in New Jersey, and you can visit him online at EBLewis.com.


Though the themes of baseball and classical music initially may seem a jarring juxtaposition, here the duet makes for lovely harmony. Lewis's (Fire on the Mountain) realistic, emotion-charged watercolor paintings evoke a pivotal period in baseball history. It is 1948 and, as Jackie Robinson did the prior year, many top African American ball players in the Negro Leagues are defecting to join "white teams." Curtis's (Grandma's Baseball) plot centers on Reginald, a young violin player whose father manages the Negro National League's worst team, which has lost its best players. Hoping to tear him away from his beloved instrument, Papa drafts Reginald as the Dukes' bat boy, but soon discovers that his son is as clumsy with the bats as he is graceful with his bow. Yet when the boy plays his violin in the dugout, his music inspires the batters, and the Dukes miraculously make it to the playoffs. As Curtis shapes a heartwarming relationship between father and son, his portrayal doesn't neglect the era's bitter facts: though previously all-white leagues were accepting African American ball players, many other whites were not. The Dukes may not go home with the pennant, but this imposing book will score high marks with youngsters, whether their tastes run to sports or to Mozart. Ages 4-10. (Apr.)

Gr 1-4ÄThis picture book offers readers many things: an interesting look at life in the Negro National Baseball League of the 1940s, a wonderfully delineated father-son relationship, and a gentle advocacy of the sometimes intangible value of culture. Reginald is serious about playing his violin but his father, who coaches "the worst team in the Negro National League," the Dukes, believes his son would use his time more wisely by serving as bat boy for the team. After a couple of humorous disasters, the child becomes an unusual bat boy who plays his violin in the dugout to urge the players on, while his father takes care of the equipment. Ultimately, the Dukes' success and appreciation for Reginald's talents make his father alter his view of violin playing and find pride in his son's achievements. Lewis's soft watercolor illustrations portray the characters with depth and beauty, resulting in a very special book.ÄJudith Constantinides, East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA

"This imposing book will score high marks with youngsters, whether their tastes run to sports or to Mozart".

-- Publishers Weekly

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