From Publishers Weekly
In the fourth book about Thomas and Grandfather (last seen in Stealing Home ), baseball proves more than just an ongoing passion shared by the two; for Thomas, it also offers a provocative window onto the past. When their friend Mr. McCallam invites them to Miami, Thomas is thrilled by the prospect of meeting Coco Grimes, an old-time ballplayer from the Negro Leagues. The much-anticipated visit proves both less and more than Thomas has counted on, however: Coco is difficult--rambling, forgetful and cantankerous--but it is his enfeebled memory that permits an unexpected moment of connection between them at the end. Stolz's low-key narrative is distinguished by precisely defined characters, from Thomas's gentle, old-fashioned grandfather to his pungent Aunt Linzy to the mercurial Coco himself. The world they inhabit is, refreshingly, a benign and caring one on the whole; its innocence is saved from unreality by both the presence of small, daily trials--rain on a birthday party, an unreliable truck--and the encounter Thomas has with Coco, unsettling but rich, and sure to linger in the reader's memory. Ages 8-11.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 3-5. The ongoing story of Thomas and Grandfather continues here where Stealing Home (1993) left off. This time, the focus is on the Negro Leagues: baseball fanatic Thomas gets a chance to interview a very old man, Coco Grimes, who once played on the teams that barnstormed the country when black players weren't allowed in the majors. Mr. Grimes tells Thomas about the joy of the game and the insult of the racism. The reminiscence is not always easy to follow, perhaps because Stolz is careful not to draw any heavy messages. As always, the real interest of the story is in the loving home that orphan Thomas shares with Grandfather and their cat on the Gulf of Mexico. Whether they're cooking for Thomas' tenth birthday party or visiting a fairground or watching a favorite team in spring training, the characters are open to the surprise of daily life. Stolz has the rare ability to write about happiness without being sentimental or preachy. Hazel Rochman