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- Publisher: HOUGHTON MIFFLIN
- Format: Paperback | 208 pages
- Dimensions: 130mm x 193mm x 18mm | 136g
- Publication date: 8 March 2010
- Publication City/Country: Boston, MA
- ISBN 10: 0547248970
- ISBN 13: 9780547248974
- Edition statement: Reprint
- Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
- Sales rank: 364,727
Both Maggie and her brother, Joey-Mick, were named after baseball great Joe D'Maggio. But they aren't Yankee fans. Their team is the Brooklyn Dodgers. And although Maggie doesn't play baseball, she knows the game. She can recite stats, understands complicated plays, cheers when the Dodgers win--and suffers when they lose. But even with Maggie's support, the Dodgers fail to win the Series, season after season. And the letters she sends to her friend and baseball mentor, Jim--serving in Korea--aren't answered. Nothing Maggie does helps. Maybe it doesn't make any difference at all. Or maybe it does.
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Linda Sue Park is the author of the Newbery Medal book A Single Shard, many other novels, several picture books, and most recently a book of poetry: Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems). She lives in Rochester, New York, with her family, and is now a devoted fan of the New York Mets. For more infromation visit www.lspark.com.
By TeensReadToo 25 Sep 2010
For the first half of this book, I thought the title referred specifically to the protagonist, Maggie, learning how to score a baseball game. It's 1951, Maggie is a huge Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and baseball is central to her life. She learns how to score a game when her dad's firehouse colleague teaches her.
I admit I find it frustrating that Maggie has no real desire to learn to play baseball herself. There is a brief mention of the strides that women had made with the game, including the women's league that existed during World War II, but Maggie is content to be a fan. Not that there is anything wrong with fandom, but it is energy that seems misplaced in a story about a spunky, outgoing, full-of-life girl with baseball on the brain.
The conflict finally arises when Jim, the fireman who took Maggie under his wing and taught her how to score, is drafted to Korea. At first, Maggie and Jim write letters back and forth. Then Jim's letters stop coming. Maggie is hurt and confused that her friend no longer seems to appreciate her letters.
When Maggie's father finally breaks the news that the reason Jim hasn't written is because he is at home in a catatonic state after witnessing something very bad in Korea, Maggie begins brainstorming ways that she can help make Jim "better."
First, she keeps score of his team, the New York Giants, who are rivals of her beloved Brooklyn. Then she tries prayer, also to no avail. Then she comes up with an idea that is so precious and selfless that I won't spoil it by recounting it here. But I will say that the idea is the heart of the book, and it's a shame that it took half of the story to get there.
KEEPING SCORE starts out as a story about a girl learning to score a baseball game. By the time it ends, Maggie finds herself keeping score of her own efforts to help her friend. While the adults around her realize that there is nothing she can do to help Jim, and that his illness isn't her fault, this lesson never really hits home for Maggie. She continues to accept responsibility for Jim's struggle. However, though misguided as Maggie may be at times, she is also selfless, kind, and caring. She is a dutiful daughter who not only respects her parents, but has a real affection for them. She certainly has at her core the idea that it is better to help others than to help yourself.
The story weaves in some interesting facts and information about the Korean War that will help kids better understand a time in our history. It definitely will lead readers to contract baseball fever. And, it ends with some helpful websites that readers can visit to learn to score baseball games on their own.
"Although the jacket image shoes a girl at a baseball stadium, Newbery Medalist Park's (A Single Shard) Korean War-era novel is best approached not as a sports story but as a powerful attempt to grapple with loss. Margaret Olivia Fontini, named after Joe DiMaggio ("Maggie-o, get it?"), loves Brooklyn's beloved but doomed Dodgers with a passion. When a new fireman arrives at her father's station wearing his allegiance to the arch-enemy Giants on his sleeve, Maggie keeps her distance until he teachers her how to score the game, a practice Maggie embraces with gusto, believing that recording every pitch and play might actually help Dem Bums finally win. And when Jim is drafted and sent to Korea, he and Maggie write, until Jim's letters abruptly stop. Park evokes the characters and settings with her customary skill and talent for detail; she shows unusual sensitivity in writing about war and the atrocity that, Maggie learns, has traumatized Jim into silence. Readers will be moved by Maggie's hard earned revelation, that every instance of keeping score "had been a chance to hope for something good to happen," and that "hope always comes first."--"Publishers Weekly," starred review"In 1950s Brooklyn, everyone is baseball mad. Maggie says daily prayers and follows careful rituals to "help" the Dodgers. She listens intently to games on the radio, often with her friends at the firehouse. With firefighter Jim's help, even if he is a Giants fan, she learns to score the games meticulously. Jim is drafted and sent to Korea, where his experiences lead to a severe breakdown. Maggie writes to Jim faithfully, scores Giants games for him and says heartfelt prayers for his recovery. But her efforts meet with little success. She is disillusioned and heartbroken by the war, by Jim's inability to cope and by the constant disappointments provided by the Dodgers. But she never completely gives up, and there is a ray of hope for both Jim and the Dodgers as the 1955 season begins. Park