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Children's LiteratureIn this latest addition to the "Baseball Card Adventure" series, Stosh and his washed-up, lonely coach, Flip Valentini, go back in time with a rare, E-Bay-auctioned baseball card and a borrowed radar gun to determine once and for all whether or not Satchel Paige was really the fastest pitcher who ever lived. Gutmann manages to weave together abundant sports action with all the excitement of time travel. This book includes a serious and disturbing look at the entrenched racial prejudice of the 1940s, when some of the greatest players in the history of baseball were confined to the Negro League and denied service in whites-only restaurants. Stosh witnesses the painful ugliness of racism close up, gives Flip a chance to do his life over again with success in both sports and love (best not to think about how these "Back to the Future" scenarios are even conceivable, let alone possible!), and learns that "some legends ought to stay legends and some mysteries ought to stay mysteries." A warmhearted, fast-paced story that works on multiple levels to engage and satisfy even reluctant readers. 2006, Amistad Press/HarperCollins, Ages 8 to 12.
—Claudia Mills, Ph.D.