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One-Handed Catch


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About the Author

M.J. Auch is the award-winning author of Guitar Boy, Wing Nut and numerous other books for young readers. Books were a part of M.J.'s life from an early age; her mother was a second grade teacher who always made sure there were plenty of books in the house. M.J. now lives on a small farm in upstate NY with her husband and co-illustrator, Herm, and their two dogs, Sophie and Zeke.


Gr 5-9-Mary Jane Auch's novel (Holt, 2006), narrated by 11-year-old Norm Schmidt, opens on the morning of July 4, 1946, with the whole town excited that rationing is over and fireworks are back. Norm, helping out in his family's meat market, catches his hand in the meat grinder and is rushed to the hospital. His hand must be amputated, and his dreams of bikes, cars, baseball, and drawing may be over. His parents react to the accident in different ways. His father becomes stoic with guilt, and his mother insists that Norm learn to do everything for himself. When Norm's best buddy tries to convince him to give up on baseball, the boy only becomes more fired up to try harder. An article about a one-handed major league pitcher provides additional encouragement. Norm also learns to fit back into life at school as a result of his mother's admonition to his teachers that he get no special treatment and a new friend who helps him become more confident of his artistic abilities. A colorful bully, Norm's best friend's sense of humor, the Boy Scouts, and baseball add to the fun. Listening to this book is like falling into a Norman Rockwell painting and getting to live among genuine post-war Americans. Narration by Ryan Sparkes and the Full Cast Family is enjoyable and well done. Period music and an interview with the author and her husband, whose childhood inspired the novel, add to this superior production. Fans of John Ritter's The Boy Who Saved Baseball (Philomel, 2003), Hoot by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf, 2003), and Edward Bloor's Tangerine (Harcourt, 1997) will enjoy this audiobook.-Jo-Ann Carhart, East Islip Public Library, NY Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"Quality writing and a protagonist who will inspire readers and convince them that handicaps are limitations only if you let them be." --Voice of Youth Advocates

"Kids will be fascinated with just how Norm learns to cope, and Norm won't mind a bit if they watch." --The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"A light, humorous tale. Norm's inner voice is generally calm, and his jocular exchanges with his friend Leon provide comic relief . . . An enjoyable read on the popular theme of overcoming adversity." --School Library Journal

"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 . . . This story offers both inspiration and useful information, deftly wrapped in an engaging narrative." --Booklist

"Auch handles [Norm's] emotions and those of his family and friends believably and never patronizes her characters or her readers by becoming maudlin. Moving and thought-provoking." --Kirkus Reviews

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