Friday, July 3, 2009

Baseball in April and other Stories

A. Bibliography
Soto, Gary. 1990. Baseball in April and Other Stories. New York: Harcourt, Inc. ISBN 0152025731.

B. Plot Summary
Baseball in April is a collection of short stories by Gary Soto that focus on the daily lives of young Latino teens and all their dreams, wishes, heartaches, and successes.

C. Critical Analysis
Baseball in April is eleven stories each focusing on a different protagonist who is experiencing one of many of Life's Difficulties that only teens can have. As there are no illustrations, cultural authenticity is revealed through names, food, and customs. the stories all appear to be set in the US and are of modern times, so influences from American styles and ideas are prevalent as the main characters work his/her way through their personal crisis.
Old customs occasionally conflict with modern Mexican-American teens. IN the story "Growing Up", Maria argues with her father about whether or not she should go on the annual family vacation. Her father disagreed and, "...his thoughts were on Mexico, where a father was respected and his word, right or wrong, was final...her was the man of the house and no daughter of his was going to tell him what to do."
Cultural language is often used within each story as many of the characters have older family members, parents, grandparents, who once lived in the family's original country. Not all Spanish phrases are re-stated in English within the text of the story. Instead, a Spanish glossary is provided at the end of the book.
Baseball in April is an entertaining collection of stories displaying the universal themes of friendship, love, and even embarrassment. Young teens of all cultures will find many characters with whom to relate.

D. Review Excerpts
School Library Journal -- Insightful about the characteristics of early adolescents, Soto tells 11 short stories about everyday problems of growing up. Latinos in central California are the focus of the stories, but the events are typical of young teens anywhere in the United States. The main characters try out for Little League teams, take karate lessons, try to get the attention of the opposite sex, and are embarrassed by their grandparents' behavior. These day-to-day events reveal the sensitivity, humor, and vulnerability of today's young people. The descriptions and dialogue are used to advantage, helping to create and sustain the mood. A glossary of Spanish terms is included. Young readers should easily identify with the situations, emotions, and outcomes presented in these fine short stories.

E. Connections
Read each story aloud on different days. Allow students to discuss different ways the story's protagonist could solve his/her problem.
Encourage students to write their own short stories of times they went through a problem and solved it on their own.

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