From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8 Eleven-year-old Danny Gurkin is a devoted Sluggers fan, even though the team has won only one championship in its 108-year history (and that took place in their very first season). Hope and superstition are the hallmarks of their doggedly loyal fans. During the season, Danny's life is dictated by a complex web of superstitions that dictate how and where he'll watch the games (always avoiding the wrong side of the sofa), what he'll wear, and what he'll eat (two hot dogs, though the toppings vary by circumstance: a rookie pitcher calls for extra onions, for example). Haven's first novel will delight readers with its whimsically exaggerated detail as he simultaneously celebrates and winks a knowing eye at baseball's cherished folklore and superstitions. The intricate plot, which begins with the curse of the poisoned pretzel, will keep readers on the edge of their seats right up to the glorious finale set during baseball's fall classic. Mysteriously odd characters disappear and reappear. Danny, his friends, and the Sluggers themselves are lovable underdogs, comically earnest, and recognizable to baseball fans everywhere. Haven's quirky style with an eye for oddball detail and comic hyperbole will remind readers of Roald Dahl and Eva Ibbotson. Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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Gr. 4-7. Haven debuts with a long, laid-back tale featuring a perennially hapless baseball team and its most superstitious fan. Though 11-year-old Danny, team ball boy, follows an elaborate regimen whenever the Sluggers are playing ("Never leave a window open when a right-hander is on the mound," etc.), the team is, typically, mired 16 games out. The luck begins to turn, however, after Danny filches a pack of 108-year-old gum from the decrepit mansion of team founder and bubblegum mogul Manchester E. Boddlebrooks. As Danny chews, the Sluggers start winning, ultimately climbing into a tie with the blue-chip Texas Tornadoes. But then, having sailed into celebrity status as team good-luck charm for the Sluggers, Danny captures the eye of the Tornadoes' ruthless owner, billionaire "Diamond" Bob Honeysuckle. Well endowed with stock characters and familiar side plots, as well as nail-biting baseball action that culminates in an epic championship series, this tale is for any kid who has ever turned a cap inside out or crossed a few fingers. Illustrations not seen. John PetersCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved