Friday, January 30, 2009

Book of the Day: Roasted Peanuts by Tim Egan

Why I Love This Book:
Let's face it...some of us are simply not athletes. This was something I learned about myself very early on. Tried 'em all. Softball. Tennis. Basketball. Field Hockey. Swimming. Diving. Gymnastics. Track & field. Golf. I wasn't just average at any of these sports. I stunk, plain and simple.

The most difficult for me was softball and for some reason I stuck with it for 5 years. The ball scared the living daylights out of me. And the few times I did manage to catch it, my hand always hurt. I mean, really hurt. I couldn't bat either. The coach finally taught me how to bunt. Every outfield knew to move in close when I came to the plate. And the glasses with the safety strap didn't help either. I am Jackson in Roasted Peanuts, except that I couldn't throw either.


Summary/Review:

Peanuts! Get your peanuts! Peanuts here! Any child who has been to a professional baseball game has surely witnessed the peanut vendors, many of them fixtures at the ballpark long after the players have moved on to other teams or retired from the game. And Roasted Peanuts accurately portrays the valuable role a peanut vendor can play in the baseball experience.


While this endearing story is wonderful for every baseball enthusiast, do not let the theme pigeon-hole this book for a particular audience. The storyline applies to the many challenges a child will encounter in life, whether on the winning or losing end.


It begins with Sam and Jackson- best friends, baseball fans, and vastly different athletes. Sam hits every pitch out of the park and catches every ball that comes his way. And then there’s Jackson. He has an uncanny ability to throw a ball with accuracy (though not hard enough to pitch), but it does not override his inability to run fast, swing the bat, or field even the easiest of balls.


After try-outs, it comes as no surprise who makes the team, and who leaves in defeat with the sound of laughter still ringing in his ears. So the two pals part ways. Sam pursues his dreams of playing ball, but his performance tanks and he is heckled mercilessly on the field. Jackson, meanwhile, stagnates in his apartment, feeling sorry for himself all day long.


And so the primary lesson of this touching story unfolds, as the two friends figure out how to work as a team and succeed together using their unique yet complementary talents. Without giving away every last detail, just know that both Jackson and Sam come out shining in their own right.


Roasted Peanuts is such an enjoyable read for parents and children alike. The story is told in a refreshingly simple, non-preachy, matter-of-fact kind of way. For this reason, children as young as four can grasp the message and those as old as eight can relate to the challenges Jackson and Sam face and overcome.


Send a child Roasted Peanuts from The Lollipop Book Club


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