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The Bat Boy and His Violin

The Bat Boy and His Violin

3.3 3
by Gavin Curtis, E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)

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Reginald loves to create beautiful music on his violin. But Papa, manager of the Dukes, the worst team in the Negro National League, needs a bat boy, not a "fiddler," and traveling with the Dukes doesn't leave Reginald much time for practicing.
Soon the Dukes' dugout is filled with Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach — and the bleachers are filled with the sound


Reginald loves to create beautiful music on his violin. But Papa, manager of the Dukes, the worst team in the Negro National League, needs a bat boy, not a "fiddler," and traveling with the Dukes doesn't leave Reginald much time for practicing.
Soon the Dukes' dugout is filled with Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach — and the bleachers are filled with the sound of the Dukes' bats. Has Reginald's violin changed the Dukes' luck — and can his music pull off a miracle victory against the powerful Monarchs?
Gavin Curtis's beautifully told story of family ties and team spirit and E. B. Lewis's lush watercolor paintings capture a very special period in history.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Though the themes of baseball and classical music initially may seem a jarring juxtaposition, here the duet makes for lovely harmony. Lewis's (Fire on the Mountain) realistic, emotion-charged watercolor paintings evoke a pivotal period in baseball history. It is 1948 and, as Jackie Robinson did the prior year, many top African American ball players in the Negro Leagues are defecting to join "white teams." Curtis's (Grandma's Baseball) plot centers on Reginald, a young violin player whose father manages the Negro National League's worst team, which has lost its best players. Hoping to tear him away from his beloved instrument, Papa drafts Reginald as the Dukes' bat boy, but soon discovers that his son is as clumsy with the bats as he is graceful with his bow. Yet when the boy plays his violin in the dugout, his music inspires the batters, and the Dukes miraculously make it to the playoffs. As Curtis shapes a heartwarming relationship between father and son, his portrayal doesn't neglect the era's bitter facts: though previously all-white leagues were accepting African American ball players, many other whites were not. The Dukes may not go home with the pennant, but this imposing book will score high marks with youngsters, whether their tastes run to sports or to Mozart. Ages 4-10. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Karen Leggett
Reginald plays the violin. His father plays baseball. In fact, his father is the manager of a Negro Leagues baseball team and he doesn't understand why his son is "cooped up inside all the time" playing a fiddle. "Violin," says Reginald. The team needs a bat boy and Reginald is tapped for the job, with a promise that he can practice his music "'tween innings." The music has a decidedly positive impact on the ball players, whose balls go sailing out of the park to the strains of Mozart and Tchaikovsky. But even a winning team in the Negro Leagues has to sleep on the bus because hotels "don't exactly cotton to coloreds sleepin' in our beds." E.B. Lewis' soft watercolors flow across the page in a story that captures both the early struggles of black athletes and a young boy's determination.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Music is the bone of contention between Reginald who loves his violin and his Papa, coach of the Dukes baseball team. The tensions mount as the Dukes lose and Reginald's inept skills as a batboy add to the anxiety. While he may be a bat bumbler, when relegated to the bench, Reginald gracefully releases strains of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. He brings success on the field and comfort off it. Ultimately, it is not the wins and losses that matter so much as the love of this son and his father. The illustrations accent emotions and delineate the time period of the Negro Leagues. This very specific story has subtleties that reveal facts aboutthis period in African-American sports and civil rights history.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4--This picture book offers readers many things: an interesting look at life in the Negro National Baseball League of the 1940s, a wonderfully delineated father-son relationship, and a gentle advocacy of the sometimes intangible value of culture. Reginald is serious about playing his violin but his father, who coaches "the worst team in the Negro National League," the Dukes, believes his son would use his time more wisely by serving as bat boy for the team. After a couple of humorous disasters, the child becomes an unusual bat boy who plays his violin in the dugout to urge the players on, while his father takes care of the equipment. Ultimately, the Dukes' success and appreciation for Reginald's talents make his father alter his view of violin playing and find pride in his son's achievements. Lewis's soft watercolor illustrations portray the characters with depth and beauty, resulting in a very special book.--Judith Constantinides, East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA

Product Details

Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
11.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.20(d)
AD700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

E.B. Lewis is the award-winning illustrator of such books as Virgie Goes to School With Us Boys by Elizabeth Fitzgerald, which was a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, and This Little Light of Mine. He received the Caldecott Honor for Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes. E.B. Lewis lives in New Jersey, and you can visit him online at EBLewis.com.

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Bat Boy and His Violin 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The smell of hot dogs... the faint sound of a violin from the dugout... the sound of a cracked ball soaring over the stadium gate and the Dukes on the road to victory!!! The Bat Boy & His Violin is an uplifting story of a familiar time known to even those not born into the era. Reginald, a young violinist, feels pushed away from his father because of his love for violins, or, fiddles. As he plays his favorite tunes, the mood is felt thrughout the house, but is rejcted by his father, the manager of the Dukes-- one of the worst teams in the Negro Baseball League. His father tries to get Reginald out the house by asking him to bat- boy for the team with the compromise that he can 'fiddle' on the sideline. Feeling rejected once more while at a game, plays a string from his heart and the notes grab the players' attention. From then on, the team progressed and got to a large winning streak with each heartfelt note coarsing through their hearts and bats. The team , especially Reginalds father, learned that the best feelings aren't just felt, they're heard. The illustrations Earl B. Lewis creates for the reader create a fantasia and power that strengthen the child's imagination and emotion in an imaginary character. Children always have some hidden talent and are sometimes ignored, but this maybe a chance for a lucky reader to finally realize that what they have to offer is precious and should be brought out and utilized.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Bat Boy and his Violin is a stirring story of one little boy's determination to succeed, his relationship with his father,and baseball with a gentle undercurrent of racism characteristic to the period. This unique blend of elements teach children about perserverence and the early hardships of black athletes. Vibrant illustrations draw you into the story of Reginald and the Negro League baseball team the Dukes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book about fathers and sons who have different interests in life and do see 'eye to eye'. The little boy in this story wants his father to recognize his talent for playing the violin. The fathers' focus is on baseball and winning. Slowly the father comes to appreciate his sons talents, praising him, and expressing his love at the end of the story. This is a theme that is true in life no matter what culture you are from. This concept about father/son relationships may not appear to you the first time you read the story. Enjoy....
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved the illustrations and the idea behind this book. Disappointed, however, in the way the book distracts its reader with the difficulties the father's baseball team is having. To further distract the reader, the issues of the Negro League players is brought into the story. Also distracting...the father of the main character doesn't speak standard English. In MY version of the story, during story time...he is definitely speaking standard English. I wish more emphasis would have been placed on what the boy thought about in terms of his talent as a violinist. Overall, I had high hopes for this book, but was somewhat disappointed. It is still, however, read in our house because we are so very THIRSTY to read about the love of a young boy of color for classical music and his violin! (All of which happen to be very important in our home.)