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Keeping Score (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Keeping Score (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.5 7
by Linda Sue Park

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Both Maggie and her brother, Joey-Mick, were named after baseball great Joe D’Maggio. But they aren’t Yankee fans. Their team is the Brooklyn Dodgers. And although Maggie doesn’t play baseball, she knows the game. She can recite stats, understands complicated plays, cheers when the Dodgers win—and suffers when they lose.



Both Maggie and her brother, Joey-Mick, were named after baseball great Joe D’Maggio. But they aren’t Yankee fans. Their team is the Brooklyn Dodgers. And although Maggie doesn’t play baseball, she knows the game. She can recite stats, understands complicated plays, cheers when the Dodgers win—and suffers when they lose.

But even with Maggie’s support, the Dodgers fail to win the Series, season after season. And the letters she sends to her friend and baseball mentor, Jim—serving in Korea—aren’t answered.

Nothing Maggie does helps. Maybe it doesn’t make any difference at all.

Or maybe it does.

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Ward
Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park is a master storyteller, and she proves it again here. The story closes at the end of 1954, and whether or not one knows what awaits the Dodgers in 1955, the quiet thrill she packs into the last three paragraphs is palpable.
—The Washington Post
Lisa Von Drasek
…helped me comprehend the fan's single-minded loyalty…We follow Maggie and her family over the course of four seasons, from 1951 to 1954, and Linda Sue Park—who won the Newbery Medal for her novel A Single Shard—perfectly paces the unfolding story. Although the novel spans years in a young girl's life, it's clear that what happens in the winter doesn't matter; it's just time spent waiting for real life—baseball.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Although the jacket image shows a girl at a baseball stadium, Newbery Medalist Park's (A Single Shard) Korean War-era novel is best approached not as a sports story but as a powerful attempt to grapple with loss. Margaret Olivia Fontini, named after Joe DiMaggio ("Maggie-o, get it?"), loves Brooklyn's beloved but doomed Dodgers with a passion. When a new firemen arrives at her father's station wearing his allegiance to the arch-enemy Giants on his sleeve, Maggie keeps her distance until he teaches her how to score the game, a practice Maggie embraces with gusto, believing that recording every pitch and play might actually help Dem Bums finally win. And when Jim is drafted and sent to Korea, he and Maggie write, until Jim's letters abruptly stop. Park evokes the characters and settings with her customary skill and talent for detail; she shows unusual sensitivity in writing about war and the atrocity that, Maggie learns, has traumatized Jim into silence. Readers will be moved by Maggie's hard-earned revelation, that every instance of keeping score "had been a chance to hope for something good to happen," and that "hope always comes first." Ages 9-12. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 15.

This is a book to share with younger teens who love baseball. Following the same time period as Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir, Wait Till Next Year, this is the story of young Maggie and how keeping the scores of Brooklyn Dodger games allows her to interact with the firefighters in her father’s fire company. Baseball is a connecting thread in the life of the community, so as Maggie walks down the street she can keep track of the game as it blares on the radios up and down the street in the neighborhood. While hanging out at the station house, Maggie meets Jim Maine, a Yankee fan; but he also keeps score of the games. Maggie is fascinated by the graphic representation of the game and soon learns how to keep score herself. When Jim is drafted and sent to Korea, Maggie writes to the young soldier, sharing game results with him. He introduces her via letters to Jae-Hyung, a Korean boy near to her age. In order to better understand the war, she draws on her graphic representation of baseball to help draw the Korean peninsula and the troop movements. As the news covers the stalled front, Jim stops writing. When Maggie learns that Jim has already come home, she and her father have a heart-to-heart talk about the tragedies of war. The novel carefully balances the reality of war with life in Brooklyn in the early 1950s, giving readers a rich sense of the culture and the times. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

AGERANGE: Ages 11 to 14.

Young Maggie is an avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan growing up in the 1950s. Despite Maggie's best efforts, the Dodgers fail to win the World Series season after season. "Wait till next year!" is the team's unofficial slogan. Maggie is befriended by Jim, a rival Giants fan, who teaches Maggie the art of scoring baseball games. When Jim is sent to fight in Korea, Maggie does all she can to keep in touch, but Jim stops writing back. Eventually Maggie learns what happened, but will anything she does, even cheering for the Giants, make a difference as Jim struggles to recover from the horror of war? Park states, "What I want to do is, first, tell a good story." This novel certainly demonstrates that Park is a brilliant storyteller with superb writing skills. She adeptly combines the genres of sports and historical fiction from the refreshing perspective of the fan. Maggie is an endearing, resourceful protagonist, and every teen who lives and dies with a favorite team will be able to relate to Maggie's passion and loyalty. Park does an outstanding job of exploring the theme of hope through Maggie's love of the Dodgers and her desire for Jim to recover. This book will become a cherished favorite in every library. Park provides Web sites at the end of the book for those who want to learn how to score baseball games. Reviewer: David Goodale
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
More than anything in the world, nine-year-old Maggie wants the Brooklyn Dodgers to win a world series. The men at her dad's old firehouse are big Dodger fans and Maggie has spent so much time there listening to the games on the radio that it has become her team as well. The new fireman, Jim, is a NY Giants fan. He taught Maggie how to keep score during the games. When Jim leaves to fight in the Korean War, Maggie promises him she will continue with the score books. Maggie looks forward to receiving Jim's letters and is saddened when they stop. She becomes curious about the Korean War and keeps track of who is winning by drawing maps. Her frustration grows until her father tells her about the horrible event that has left Jim with what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. Maggie is determined to help Jim recover, even to the point of wishing that the Giants will win the World Series. Although her grand idea does not work the way she planned, she learns that hard work and hope can make a difference. Avid baseball fans will appreciate the play-by-play of the historic games between the Giants and the Dodgers in the 1950s. The captions under Park's maps give a simplified account of the events of the Korean War, thus providing a fine introduction for readers who might otherwise be unfamiliar with it. Park's usual smoothly elegant writing style, her spunky heroine, other well drawn characters, and the multiple plot strands give the reader a fascinating glimpse into the past and a story that is as fresh as today's news. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal

Gr 4-6- In 1951, Maggie, nine, and her older brother, Joey-Mick, are dedicated baseball fans though their beloved Brooklyn Dodgers always disappoint them at season's end. Maggie enjoys listening to the games with the firefighters in her neighborhood station; her dad worked there before an injury forced him to accept a desk job. When a new firefighter, Jim, joins the crew, he teaches Maggie how to keep score and she comes to share his admiration for Giants' great Willie Mays. Then Jim is drafted and sent to Korea. They writer to one another until his letters abruptly stop. Maggie, frustrated and worried, tries to understand the conflict by researching it at her local library and even drawing her own maps tracing the war's progress on the Korean peninsula. Eventually, she learns that Jim suffered traumatic shock after a horrific battle and has been sent home with a medical discharge. Park paints a vividly detailed account of life in 1950s Brooklyn. Maggie's perspective is authentically childlike and engaging, and her relations with her family and friends ring true. Jim's tragic experience raises difficult, troubling questions for Maggie, but her grief eventually brings her to the conclusion that "hope is what gets everything started." Baseball fans will savor her first visit to Ebbets Fields, but this finely crafted novel should resonate with a wide audience of readers..-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In 1950s Brooklyn, everyone is baseball mad. Maggie says daily prayers and follows careful rituals to "help" the Dodgers. She listens intently to games on the radio, often with her friends at the firehouse. With firefighter Jim's help, even if he is a Giants fan, she learns to score the games meticulously. Jim is drafted and sent to Korea, where his experiences lead to a severe breakdown. Maggie writes to Jim faithfully, scores Giants games for him and says heartfelt prayers for his recovery. But her efforts meet with little success. She is disillusioned and heartbroken by the war, by Jim's inability to cope and by the constant disappointments provided by the Dodgers. But she never completely gives up, and there is a ray of hope for both Jim and the Dodgers as the 1955 season begins. Park's deeply layered plot is built as slowly and as meticulously as Maggie's scoring. As Maggie matures from age nine to 13, she never loses her compassion and openhearted nature. An author's note adds historical information. A winner at every level. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Turtleback Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

July, 1951 Brooklyn, NY

Chapter One: The New Guy “How’s come you guys don’t bunt?” Maggie was sitting on the stoop. On the sidewalk in front of their house, Joey-Mick finished tying his shoe with a double knot. He shrugged but didn’t answer.
Then he picked up his glove and glared at it. He tightened the worn leather lace that was always coming undone, and prodded the hole in the top of one of the fingers. The glove was a hand-me-down from their Uncle Leo, and the only reason it was still in one piece, Maggie thought, was because it didn’t want to face her brother’s wrath if it fell apart. “They bunt all the time in the majors,” Maggie said. “Well, not all the time, but when they need to. Nobody on your team bunts, hardly never. Don’t they teach you how?” “We know how,” he said as he started plunking a ball into the pocket of the glove—thunk – thunk – thunk. “But it’s lots more important to get good at hitting.” He stopped plunking long enough to tug at the bill of his cap; Maggie thought that the cap over his new crewcut made him look like he didn’t have any hair at all. “If you played, you wouldn’t hafta ask that.” Maggie pressed her lips together hard.
Whenever she tried to talk baseball with Joey-Mick, he always used that older-so-I-know-way-more-than-you voice and said she didn’t or wouldn’t or couldn’t understand because she didn’t play the game herself.
It wasn’t fair. She was nine-going-on-ten, and she knew plenty about baseball, and way more about the Dodgers than he did. Unless shewas in school, she never missed a game on the radio. Joey-Mick might go out to play with his friends during a game, but not Maggie. Like today. The Dodgers’ game against the Pittsburgh Pirates would be starting soon, and here was Joey-Mick waiting for his friend Davey; they were going to the park to have a catch. Maggie stood up. She was leaving as well, to walk the two blocks to the firehouse and listen to the game with the guys.
“Gotta go,” she said. “Us real fans have a game to listen to.”

New York was the only city in the whole country with three baseball teams. The Yankees of the American League were the winningest team in all of baseball. They had been World Series champions a whopping thirteen times. And the National League Giants had won the World Series seven times in their history.
The Brooklyn Dodgers, who were in the National League with the Giants, had never won the World Series. Not ever.
Not even once.
It was what Maggie wanted more than anything in the world: for the Dodgers to win the World Series. It seemed like she had wanted it ever since she was born. Every year the Dodgers—whose nickname to Brooklynites was ‘Dem Bums’—came close, either winning the National League pennant or finishing in the top three. But the biggest prize, the World Series championship, always seemed to slip away from them. Although Maggie knew it wasn’t true, she felt like the first words she had learned when she was a baby were “Wait till next year!”—the unofficial official slogan of Dodgers fans.

Charcoal, the mostly-black firehouse dog, always knew when Maggie was coming, and she knew he knew, so even before she saw him, she took from her pocket a folded paper napkin that held a half-slice of salami. When he bounded down the street to meet her, she was ready.
She held out the salami, which he snapped down without chewing.
“Charky! Where are your manners?” she said, shaking her head and smiling at the same time. The dog led the way to the firehouse, where the guys were sitting out front in folding chairs, boots and suspenders and toothpicks, with the radio already tuned to the broadcast of the game. As soon as George caught sight of her, he jumped to his feet and went and got another chair.
After greetings, they all settled in to listen, Charky flopping down at Maggie’s feet. A routine, but one she never got tired of.
The call came in at a crucial moment: The Dodgers had just tied the game.
“Shouldn’t be long, Maggie-o,” George said as he opened the door on the driver’s side of the wagon and waited while Charky bounded onto the seat.
“Doesn’t sound like anything serious.
You better get that lead and keep it for us.” “I will,” Maggie promised, and stepped to the side of the bay to get out of the way. “Stay cool,” she called out as George hopped into the wagon.
Whenever Dad left the house to go to work, Maggie and Joey-Mick always told him to ‘stay cool’. It came from something he often said to them: “When things get hot, you gotta stay cool.” During Dad’s firehouse days, Maggie would get sent home if an emergency calll came in. But now she didn’t have to leave when the guys went out on a job. “You’re in charge,” George had said the first time she stayed. Which had made her feel quite important. She watched until the wagon was out of sight, then walked over to the radio attttt the side of the bay and turned up the volume so she could hear it while she worked. George was very strict about keeping the firehouse tidy. He had learned it from Maggie’s dad, how keeping the whole place neat and organized could save precious time in an emergency. Most days at the firehouse when there weren’t any calls, the guys spent a lot of time cleaning. Today Maggie planned to surprise them by sweeping up while they were out.
Dad had been a fireman at this station until three years ago. One afternoon when Maggie was six, Mom answered a knock at the door. Two cops were on the stoop. There had been a fire, and Dad was hurt. They didn’t know how bad. Maggie could still remember every detail of that ride to the hospital, the dome light flashing and the siren shrieking and Mom holding her hand tight enough that it hurt. They saw Dad for a few moments before the operation to fix his leg, his face so black with soot that you couldn’t tell where the soot ended and his hair and mustache began, and when he smiled at them his teeth looked the whitest they had ever been—smiled even though the pain must have been too awful to imagine. And he said, “You weren’t none of yous worried, were ya?” Maggie had seen the tears tracking down her mother’s face as she cleared her throat and answered, “Pish, I couldn’t be bothered. I was getting the dinner, and it’ll be gone cold now, thank you very much.” They were clustered around his hospital bed when he woke up from the operation.
“Everybody staying cool?” he asked groggily, the first words out of his mouth.
Later he told them a little more about what had happened. “I went crashin’ through the floor, right? And when I got my wits back, I got down low, where the air was a little better, and I started crawling. Every inch I crawled I tried to think about something cool. Maggie eating ice cream, Joey-Mick hosing down the wagon, your mom on our honeymoon at Jones Beach—” “What’s so cool about that?” Joey-Mick asked.
Dad winked. “—in her bathing suit—” “Joseph!” Maggie’s mom put one hand to her mouth, half annoyed and half laughing.
“Can’t help it, Rosie, it’s the truth.” And staying cool had helped Dad save his own life, and maybe George’s and Vince’s too, for even with a shattered leg he managed to crawl as far as the door where the other guys found him and dragged him out just as the whole roof collapsed. If he hadn’t made it to the door on his o

Meet the Author

Linda Sue Park is the author of the Newbery Medal book A Single Shard, many other novels, several picture books, and most recently a book of poetry: Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems). She lives in Rochester, New York, with her family, and is now a devoted fan of the New York Mets. For more infromation visit www.lspark.com.

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Keeping Score 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Patti Salomon More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books that i have ever read in my life.
lizzie72 More than 1 year ago
This is for both girls and boys who love baseball a very touching story. Everything that happens to Maggie is so interesting!! Read this BOOK! =D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I meet linda sue park she skyped my class and I asked her a question and it was about this book its awesome!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading Keeping Score. I like baseball but I'm not a big fan. I normally wouldn't of read this book, but I had to for a school assignment. I ended up really enjoyed. It is more than just about baseball, but about friendship. Maggie becomes good friends with a man named Jim who works at the fire station with her dad and he has to leave in the war. They keep in touch through letters and baseball but then Jim stops writing and she doesn't know why. Was Jim hurt?? Nobody in the family seems to know while throughout the book Maggie is losing faith in the Dodgers because they keep coming so colose to winning the world series but not winning..... To find out what happens, read the book!
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
For the first half of this book, I thought the title referred specifically to the protagonist, Maggie, learning how to score a baseball game. It's 1951, Maggie is a huge Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and baseball is central to her life. She learns how to score a game when her dad's firehouse colleague teaches her.

I admit I find it frustrating that Maggie has no real desire to learn to play baseball herself. There is a brief mention of the strides that women had made with the game, including the women's league that existed during World War II, but Maggie is content to be a fan. Not that there is anything wrong with fandom, but it is energy that seems misplaced in a story about a spunky, outgoing, full-of-life girl with baseball on the brain.

The conflict finally arises when Jim, the fireman who took Maggie under his wing and taught her how to score, is drafted to Korea. At first, Maggie and Jim write letters back and forth. Then Jim's letters stop coming. Maggie is hurt and confused that her friend no longer seems to appreciate her letters.

When Maggie's father finally breaks the news that the reason Jim hasn't written is because he is at home in a catatonic state after witnessing something very bad in Korea, Maggie begins brainstorming ways that she can help make Jim "better."

First, she keeps score of his team, the New York Giants, who are rivals of her beloved Brooklyn. Then she tries prayer, also to no avail. Then she comes up with an idea that is so precious and selfless that I won't spoil it by recounting it here. But I will say that the idea is the heart of the book, and it's a shame that it took half of the story to get there.

KEEPING SCORE starts out as a story about a girl learning to score a baseball game. By the time it ends, Maggie finds herself keeping score of her own efforts to help her friend. While the adults around her realize that there is nothing she can do to help Jim, and that his illness isn't her fault, this lesson never really hits home for Maggie. She continues to accept responsibility for Jim's struggle. However, though misguided as Maggie may be at times, she is also selfless, kind, and caring. She is a dutiful daughter who not only respects her parents, but has a real affection for them. She certainly has at her core the idea that it is better to help others than to help yourself.

The story weaves in some interesting facts and information about the Korean War that will help kids better understand a time in our history. It definitely will lead readers to contract baseball fever. And, it ends with some helpful websites that readers can visit to learn to score baseball games on their own.