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*Two Hot Dogs with Everything* by Paul Haven, illustrated by Tim Jessell - tweens/young readers book review

Also illustrated by Tim Jessell:

Looking for Marco Polo
Two Hot Dogs with Everything
by Paul Haven, illustrated by Tim Jessell
Ages 9-12 320 pages Random House March 2006 Hardcover    

Baseball’s history is replete with superstitions. Fans of the Chicago Cubs explain away their team’s lack of success to the “Curse of the Billy Goat,” while Red Sox fans long took refuge in the “Curse of the Bambino” theory. In this delectable novel that is sure to bring many a chuckle to long-suffering fans, Paul Haven spins the tale of eleven-year-old Danny Gurkin, whose superstitions add the ballast to the Sluggers’ quest for glory.

Just like another well-known team, the Sluggers have a long history of futility. In their one hundred-and-eight-year history, they have been champions only once, in their inaugural year. The beloved founder, Manchester E. Boodlebrooks, used his chewing gum fortune to build a championship team, only to fall on hard times due to the actions of his villainous brother. While the town accepts the team’s fate, Danny Gurkin does not. The intrepid young man single-handedly keeps the team afloat in the standings by conjuring up a series of superstitions, such as leaving the window open when a right-handed pitcher is starting and no sauerkrauts on the hot dog when a rookie is pitching.

Gurkin’s support notwithstanding, the Sluggers fall far back in their pennant chase. The Tornadoes and their nefarious owner, “Diamond” Bob Honeysuckle, stand in the way of the Sluggers’ hopes. That’s when Danny hears of the awful fate that befell Boodlebrooks many years ago. Convinced that the key to the Sluggers’ fate lies in the Boddlebrooks mansion, Danny cajoles his reluctant friends to make the long trip. What follows is a riveting yarn that transcends generations and is both plausible and unexpected.

Using magical realism and an uncanny sense of pacing, Haven propels the story surely and swiftly to a pulsating denouement. In Danny Gurkin, Haven has introduced the quintessential fan, a fan who sticks with his team through losing seasons without abandoning his faith.

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  Ram Subramanian/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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