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The Desperado Who Stole Baseball Audio CD Library Binding – Audiobook, Unabridged

8 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Cruz de la Cruz Series

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Product Details

  • Audio CD Library Binding
  • Publisher: Recorded Books (2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1440730032
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440730030
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,152,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Novelist John H. Ritter (born October 31, 1951, in San Pedro, California) grew up in the summer-dry hills east of San Diego. "I grew up in a baseball family," says John. "But we were also a family of musicians and mathematicians, house painters and poets. My dad was a sports writer in Ashtabula, Ohio, who moved the family out west, just before I was born, to become Sports Editor for The San Diego Union."

Growing up in a sparse, mountainous region also helped stretch John's imagination. "Out in that country," he says, "there was a real sense of the spirits who walked the land in the centuries before. And being so cut off from other kids, I roamed the hills a lot, following hawks and eagles, climbing boulders, sitting in Indian caves. Rattlesnakes never bothered us much. But I felt the spirits everywhere. I think my mom, who was part Blackfoot Indian, had a lot to do with that."

When John was only four, however, his mother died of breast cancer, leaving his father to raise four small children on his own. John still recalls his mother and her songs. "One thing I remember about my mom is that she sang to us constantly, making up a song for each of her four children that fit our personalities perfectly. So from her, I got a sense of how to capture a person's spirit in a lyrical phrase."

Over time, his musical interests continued to grow and in high school, the social commentary of folksinger Bob Dylan inspired him to write his own songs, hoping to pursue a musical career. He was, however, a "wild student," he admits to English professor Chris Crowe in an interview for The ALAN Review, and was torn between his love of baseball and writing, calling himself both "a high achiever and a rabble rouser," noting, for example, that in 1969 he was voted Senior Class President and the Senior Class Clown. Teachers did, however, recognize his writing talent, although his work was so often read out loud in class that he also admits to growing complacent and somewhat lazy about having to improve his skills.

At the University of California, San Diego, John studied communications while playing for the UCSD baseball team, all-the-while continuing to write Dylan-style songs. But by his sophomore year, he recalls, "I was anxious to get on with my life. And for the vision I had in mind, college didn't have much to offer me. I knew I had to walk the streets, touch life, embrace life, gain experience." So like his literary heroes before him, i.e., Dylan, Jack Kerouac, and Mark Twain, John quit school, taking a job as a painter's apprentice, and set about traveling the country. He learned to live so cheaply that he could earn enough in three or four months to allow him to travel and write for the rest of the year. He did that for several years, until he married his wife, Cheryl, whom he had met in college, and they had a baby daughter. With a family to support, John needed to work nine months a year, painting houses, but the rest of his time went into writing, an artistic lifestyle he later spotlighted in his song-laden socio-political novel, Under the Baseball Moon.

In 1994, after publishing several short stories, John received the Judy Blume Award and a cash grant from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) for a novel in progress. In 1996, he submitted his manuscript through the Curtis Brown Agency to Philomel Books where it became the first book-length acquisition of junior editor, Michael Green. Since then, Green has risen to become Editorial Director and Publisher of Philomel Books and has edited all six of John's novels.

In 1999, John's first novel, Choosing Up Sides, won the International Reading Association Children's Book Award for Older Readers and was designated an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults. The hard-hitting work of historical fiction, set in Southern Ohio, was praised by Kirkus Reviews as, "No ordinary baseball book, this is a rare first novel." Since then, John has published five more award-winning books and numerous short stories.

In 2004, he received the Paterson Prize for Children's Literature for his third novel, The Boy Who Saved Baseball. Cited in People Magazine as a book to read, "Now that the youngsters have read Harry Potter...", The Boy Who Saved Baseball also garnered a rave review in Publishers Weekly, which called the book's prose " times stunning," and that, "Ritter delivers a baseball tale of legendary dimension."

According to Vicki Sherbert, writing in The ALAN Review, "Ritter uses the game of baseball, the glory of music, and the power of the written word to illustrate how young people can overcome everyday, and not-so-everyday, challenges. Each book goes beyond the story of the game, beyond the story of the problem, right to the heart of Ritter's message: What is really valuable in life?"

Literary scholar and essayist, Patty Campbell, also notes that, "Another aspect of John H. Ritter's writing that merits high praise is the variety and inventiveness of his language. Richly evocative metaphors gather layers of meaning as the stories unfold, and the verbal style of each novel is neatly crafted to the place and time of its setting. Under the Baseball Moon dances to a hip hop beachtown beat; Over the Wall wisecracks with a California kid's take on New York; The Boy Who Saved Baseball draws on both Spanish and English to make up zingy new expressions, and Choosing Up Sides savors the naiveté of the historic Appalachian dialect of southern Ohio. His settings, too, are vividly distinct and vary from the Hispanic/Anglo blend of his own Southern California hill communities to the "small town" neighborhoods of present day New York; from the eclectic oceanfront culture of the Pacific beach towns to the church-centered villages on the banks of the Ohio River during Prohibition."

John's fifth novel, The Desperado Who Stole Baseball, was a 2009 Jr. Library Guild selection and takes an historical look at the roots of racism in the Major Leagues. Set in the Wild West of the 1880s and written in the manner of a tall tale, Desperado is a prequel to The Boy Who Saved Baseball.

And coming soon (April 12, 2012) is John's sixth novel, Fenway Fever, also a Junior Library Guild selection and a book his publisher describes as "another magical novel that celebrates teamwork--and the innate power to heal that even the least among us is born with." New York Times bestselling author Peter Abrahams called Fenway Fever, "A funny, exciting, original, and heartwarming novel."

"In all of these wonderful novels," writes Patty Campbell, "John H. Ritter steps up to the plate and hits a home run for teen reading with books that are fun to read, fun to discuss, and important in the difficult process of growing up to be an ethical human being."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By PMJ on April 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for a friend's son, and I thought I'd read a few pages to get a sense of it before I gave it to him...and now, I confess, "the Desperado" stole my heart. Before I even knew what was happening, I was caught up in the rip-roaring action, almost feeling as if I were the one escaping by my wits on horseback. The author has that rare combination of fast-paced plot, engaging characters, and lively language which can quickly transport you to another time and place, which in this case is the wild west of Southern California in the 1880's. Baseball is the pretext for concocting a tale of wild west miscreants who battle the corrupt but unbeaten Chicago baseball machine that will have you wanting to stomp your feet and whoop and holler along with the Dillontown 9. Author John Ritter follows in the path Mark Twain blazed a century ago in using local dialect and vibrant vocabulary to bring his characters to life. I expected a story for young readers, but the richness of the language as well as the colorful story line means that I will be buying my young friend another copy of the book, because my copy is now being passed on to my husband and other friends. This is a great book for any reader of any age!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Duncan on July 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
No one is writing better books about baseball (and life) for young readers (and oldsters lucky enough to find them) than John H. Ritter. His latest is a prequel to the popular "The Boy Who Saved Baseball," and takes place in 1881 in the "gold hills of San Diego."

Part tall tale, part historical fiction and COMPLETELY enjoyable -- think Mark Twain describing a showdown on a baseball diamond in a Wild West town where the "church" is in an abandoned gold mine -- "Desperado" is a fast-paced story starring young Jack Dillon and his new companion, Billy the Kid. Yes, that Billy the Kid, "wanted, dead or alive."

Jack heads west to follow his dream to play for the Dillontown Nine Baseball Club, led by his long-lost Uncle Long John Dillon, a black man. (Jack is merely dark-skinned, a minor detail he talks his way around. Jack is a VERY good talker.) African-Americans were barred from professional baseball until the mid-20th century (grrrrr), but in Dillontown, anyone can play the game - including Jack and Billy. John Dillon has challenged the National League champion Chicago White Stockings to a game with an enormous winner-takes-all jackpot. Jack and Billy are drawn into the contest with surprising - and enormously satisfying - results.

Can a baseball book steal your heart? This one does.

(A version of this review appeared in the Palo Alto Weekly.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cathy P. Miller on July 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Upper elementary and middle school readers who love baseball will love John H. Ritter's latest novel. Even if you aren't a baseball (or wild west fan), you'll find that John's books are always bigger than baseball - they are really about life and relationships and justice and power.
This one is no different. An unlikely pair, fifteen year old Jake and Billy the Kid, join forces reluctantly and that's where the adventure starts. "When the game ends, you either had a good life or a bad one or a hobgoblin of both. But it's over, right? You move on...Because Tomorrow -- and here's the best part -- tomorrow you are born again."

Not only is John's Desperado entertaining, but his tradmark "musicality of language" makes this book an excellent suggestion for classroom studies. Teachers can use Desperado to introduce the late 19th century West,African-American studies, social studies discussions of freedom, and certainly writing models of good word choice.

All in all, I'd say this one is another home run! If you like this book you'll enjoy the rest of John's books The Boy Who Saved Baseball]Over the Wall, Under the Baseball Moon, and [[ASIN:0698118405 Choosing up sides.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I am a 12-year-old baseball fan, and I think this is the best baseball book I have ever read. The adventure starts out when Jack Dillon heads to Dillontown, San Diego in the 1880s. On his way he meets a man who goes by the name of Billy the Kid. When they arrive, they get caught up in an all-or-nothing baseball game between the Dillontown 9, and the American champion Chicago White Stockings. Unfortunately, as excitement builds, there is less and less that I can tell you without giving away the story. You just have to read it for yourself!

This book is an overall great read ranging from late elementary school to middle school kids. If you read Desperado, you need to read The Boy Who Saved Baseball, which is the second book in the trilogy. I have read it. I am a big fan of the series, and am looking forward to the third book. I think all of John Ritter's books are great, and I think everyone should read them all like I have.
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