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One-Handed Catch Hardcover – September 19, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Realistic fiction for tweens
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Set just after World War II, Auch's novel tells of 11-year-old Norm, whose family owns a meat market. On the Fourth of July, while helping his dad in the store, he gets his hand caught in the meat grinder and loses it. He then faces the challenges of one-handed shoe tying, band practice, and his dream of being a baseball player. The climax is, of course, the big game and Norm's chance to prove himself to his peers and community. The gruesome accident is the only jarring note in this otherwise light, humorous tale. Norm's inner voice is generally calm, and his jocular exchanges with his friend Leon provide comic relief. His mother's fierce attempts to keep her son independent and his father's silent guilt round out the family picture that feels immediate in many ways, even though the story is set in 1946. While the rosy worldview may be slightly exaggerated, there's a small-town interconnectedness between the episodic chapters that will keep the pages turning. One-Handed Catch is an enjoyable read on the popular theme of overcoming adversity. Pitch it alongside Joseph Bruchac's The Warriors (Darby Creek) and John H. Ritter's The Boy Who Saved Baseball (Philomel, both 2003) as a sports fiction title.–Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A strong sense of purpose, leavened by generous doses of humor and post-World War II period detail, drives this story of a resilient middle-grader who demonstrates that having one hand is an opportunity rather than a handicap. Having lost his left hand to a meat grinder, Norm finds his world has become a complicated place, where even common activities such as tying shoelaces or playing baseball seem impossible. However, with plenty of pushing from his tough-love mother, who challenges him to get things done and firmly checks his efforts to trade on his disability to get special treatment, Norm not only gets by but also blossoms. He finds ways to display both musical and artistic talent as he stubbornly and inventively teaches himself to play ball well enough to earn a spot on a summer league team. Loosely based on childhood experiences of the author's husband, this story offers both inspiration and useful information, deftly wrapped in an engaging narrative. John Peters
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 710L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: William Allen White 2008-2009 Grades 3-5
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 3rd edition (September 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805079009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805079005
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,461,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When sixth-grader Norm loses his hand in an accident in his father's general store, his friends tell him there's no way he'll ever be able to play baseball. In fact, it seems like everything about his life will be different. His father can't hide the pity and guilt he feels over Norm's accident. His best friend, Leon, offers a clumsy kind of support that leaves Norm feeling like a cripple. Only his mother believes he can still reach for his dreams.

It's 1946 and the shelves of Norm's family general store are beginning to fill with products once rationed during the war. Norm can't wait to catch a glimpse of the newest model automobiles. He just knows they'll be fantastic now that the war is over and auto makers can finally design exciting cars. When he's not working in his father's store, Norm plays baseball and draws sketches. He can't decide whether he wants to play baseball or be an artist. One thing he knows for sure is that he can't wait to stop working in his father's store and waiting on obnoxious customers like old Mrs. Baumgartner. He resents the way his little sister, Ellie, escapes sharing the chores.

When Norm gets his hand caught in a meat grinder, it's a shock for the readers as well as Norm! There aren't any graphic details, but we share Norm's shock, pain, and disbelief. In the days that follow, Norm copes with his loss through humor and denial. His feelings are believable and poignant. Through his eyes, we experience the reactions of his family and friends.

One of my favorite things about this story is its portrayal of friendships between boys. Norm's friend, Leon, is a kid we can believe in. He tries to help Norm, but his attempts sometimes end up making Norm feel worse.
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Format: Hardcover
As a mom of a child with one hand, this book was insightful and enjoyable to read. After Norm loses his hand in an accident at his family's store (not a gruesome description given), the author goes out of her way to carefully describe how this one incident affects so many others. The characters' reactions to this change in Norm's life are enormously accurate and heart-felt (and sometimes comical). I could relate to every single character as they progressed through the stages of grief to acceptance without even knowing it. It's all done in an uplifting way...not sad or awkward. An awesome quick read for anyone...you'll love it!
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Format: Hardcover
"One Handed Catch" seemed like a book that would make a great Christmas gift for my oldest grandchild. It's a story set in the post WWII era. Rationing is ending and life is beginning its return to normal. But after eleven-year-old Norm loses his hand his life will never be the same. Norm has to adjust to his changed life while his family, friends and school have to figure out how to relate to Norm.

Although planned as a gift for a grandchild I found myself picking up the book one rainy day just to read a few chapters while I was waiting to leave for an appointment. That day when I returned home I grabbed the book and finished it.

While the book is written for juveniles it is an engrossing book for adults also. For those old enough to have grown up in the 40s, 50s or even 60s the small town setting that Norm calls home will bring back memories; visits to the A&P, Burma Shave signs and shopping for shoes when you have a sales person actually waiting on you.

The book is populated with the kind of people we all know.

Norm's friend Leon whose blundering attempts sometimes make Norm feel better and sometimes worse. Norm's younger sister Ellie who manages to be nice to Norm for one day after his return from the hospital then things return to normal.

The scoutmaster, baseball coach and music teacher are all believable fully fleshed out characters in Norm's life.

One hero of the story is Norm's mother who has to force her son to learn how to live one-handed when what she probably wanted to do was take care of him and do everything for him.

This book would make a great gift for any child. But an especially appropriate gift for a child that is struggling in life.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thank you MJ Auch for engaging my young reader!
My son read this book in 4th grade (last year), he is a decent reader but had never enjoyed reading until he got his hands on "The one handed catch". He loved it so much he even convinced his teacher to read it to the class, then got all of his friends that were not in his class to read it. He then read everything MJ Auch had written and his only complaint is that there are not more books by this wonderful author.
This is a well written book that was well received by his male friends and filmily friends alike.
I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow what a great book for kids. It teaches so many things kids should learn to deal with when others around them aren't. We are all different and we should each be thankful for what we have and help or honor those who struggle without areas that aren't so perfect. Handicaps birth marks studdering etc are no picnic when YOU have them. So be gentle and loving to those who do.
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