"THE BASE STEALERS CLUB" by V. Gilbert Zabel

Publisher: 4RVPublishing (PO Box 6483 Edmond, OK 73083; www.4rvpublishingllc.com; 404-820-9640)
Date: 2006
Author: V. Gilbert Zabel (
Review: 9 out of 10 -***Good book!
ISBN: 978-1-84728-220-0 Cost: ?? Reviewer: Mary Ennis Available: Amazon.com

One difficulty that parents, teachers, and librarians face is finding books that can appeal to the older male adolescent reader. During that period from 4th-9th grade when reading problems become apparent ,and fear of peer pressures become a paramount influence, it is often hard to get boys to read. V. Gilbert Zabel has created an engaging story that should appeal to the sports, as well as the mystery, fan. It should also be useful for use with older boys who might be in need of what is often labeled "low skill-high interest" books.

The story should appeal to those boys needing a "quick read" (it is 137 pages). The writing style is simple and casual enough to keep them reading out of sheer enjoyment. The storyline focuses on a team facing some important games, but also become victims of theft, and must solve that mystery in addition to winning heir game series. Hidden in the storyline of a small team with big dreams lurk subtexts, delivered with a subtle touch, about loyalty, believing in yourself, courage, doing the right thing, honesty, and forgiveness. All in all, a good read with a strong, positive message for boys in the age group.

Although an experienced writer and teacher, with past publishing experience, this is Zabel's first young adult novel. Minor problems in characterization and voice in no way detract from the over enjoyment of the book. As this author continues to hone skills and reflect more naturalistic elements, many more enjoyable books are sure to result.

The illustrations, by Zabel and designed by L.K. Polly, are based on photographs of boys in the age range of the reader in a variety of team settings and they are very good with a contemporary look. They are also general enough to appeal to sports fans for a long time and should not date too easily. The cover is rich turf green with a color photo of a team huddle. Perfect bound, the book is about 8x5 inches in size, and appears more than moderately durable for a paperback. Patrons will enjoy the easy to handle size and the type font used is easy on the eye.

This book would make an excellent addition to any school or public library collection for books in upper elementary and middle school, for children who love baseball, or for any parent looking for a book to tempt their upper elementary or middle school son to read.

No comments: