“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Baseball Card Kid • Middle grade fiction (illustrated)

The Baseball Card Kid
by Adam Osterweil • illustrated by Craig Smith
March 2009 • Front Street, an Imprint of Boyds Mills Press • Middle grade fiction (illustrated)
A valuable baseball card, a sinking ship, a distant planet, and vampire tales fill this fast-paced time-travel story.
Story: When an advertisement for a TimeQuest 2 comic suddenly attracts Paul and Brian, their only question is: How do you mail something to the year 100,000? Question answered, they begin a quest to replace a Honus Wagner card that Brian accidentally destroyed when he was younger. To find it, all they have to do is warp the space-time continuum to the year 1912, board the Titanic, and find Brian’s great-great-uncle Sean. No problem. As the TimeQuest 2 Comic magically chronicles their travels, the boys discover that their actions have doomed all of humankind. Now they must travel back to the distant reaches of the universe and darkest Transylvania to set things right again. Can they fix the world and make it home with the million-dollar baseball card before it’s too late?
Story behind the story: Adam Osterweil, teaches junior high English at Springs School in Springs, New York, and tries to make reading fun and relevant for reluctant readers by writing fast-paced action-packed adventure stories about topics that kids enjoy -- baseball being an obvious choice. Here's some interesting info on Honus Wagner, one of the greatest players of all time and his baseball card: .327 lifetime batting average, known also known for his playing career with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900-1917, and as a coach thereafter. Osterweil explains a bit about the card: "The T206 Honus Wagner card was released in 1909, but very few cards were distributed to the public (estimates placed the number in circulation at 50-200). Rumors abound about the reasons for the small number of printed cards, but their scarcity has made it the most coveted baseball card in history. One specimen in 8.0 condition (10.0 being the highest) recently sold for 2.8 million dollars. Even a lesser card in 3.0 condition recently sold for $791,000."

Osterweil and Smith's first book -- The Comic Book Kid (2001) -- was named a “Best Book of the Year” in 2002 by Bank Street College of Education, and won a Walt Disney Children’s Choice award for Best Adventure Book in 2002.

Early praise for The Baseball Card Kid:

“The slapstick time-travel antics continue in this sequel to The Comic Book Kid…Osterweil laces his narrative with middle-grade-style yuks and injects frequent reviews of events into his breathlessly paced tale. Smith punches up the short chapters further with frequent scenes of frantic-looking young folk in bizarre situations.” -- Kirkus Reviews

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.


Cori said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cori said...

When they say "don't judge a book by its cover" they were talking about The Baseball Card Kid. I thought this book was going to be about sports, but it was much different.

The Baseball Card Kid was a cute adventure story about a boy who travels through time while trying to "fix" a problem after he destroyed his father's one of a kid baseball card. Through a butterfly effect (which is explained in the story for the students) the boys must keep trying to fix the problem they made in order to return to their home.

While the story is about time travel, the real storyline is about the boys need for his father's approval. In the first chapter, we learn that he has traveled back in time before. Each time he is trying to fix one moment when his relationship with his father changed.

I enjoyed this story and think that middle school students will enjoy the story.

Sorry for deleting my first comment but I noticed a typo right after hitting submit.

Anja said...

I really enjoyed this book -- it was a quick read and very entertaining.

I would recommend this book -- especially to kids who don't particularly like reading. This is a fun book that catches you right from the beginning. I also think middle school kids would enjoy the humor -- sending underwear to the future as payment, etc.

4 stars

dmuldawer said...

What a fun book! With the wit and creativity of the Percy Jackson series, the Baseball Card kid jumps from one absurd situation to another.

The character of Seth is especially enjoyable. He knows how to manipulate people and situations and is very open about his deceptiveness (at least with people who aren't his mother!).

This book would be well received by lower level readers, as well as enjoyed as a quick read by higher level readers who enjoy fantasy and science fiction.

Picnic Basket Rating: 5

Treasure Hatch said...

Great Book! This book reminds me of the Beverly Cleary series with a modern twist. What a great story for a middle schooler who struggles with personal relationships as they all do. I loved the format in which this book is written. Great! 5 out of 5

Elizabeth said...

What a wildly futuristic book. When the two boys set out on an adventure to win their father's approval they don't realize the adventure they will find. From the Titanic to the "flat world" of the future to prehistoric you never know where the kids will end up next. I would rate this book a 4 out of 5.

EShay said...

Anything to do with the Titanic generally holds students' interests and I am sure this book will do that. Mostly male characters and the use of sports will, I believe attract male readers.
The historical aspects are intriguing and the science fiction in entertaining. The look at the far-off future is fun and creative.
The fact that the young boys are trying to right a wrong is a nice touch.
I give it a 4/5.

Julie Burroughs said...

Like The Comic Book Kid, this book is full of adventure and science fiction that will hold the attention of readers. I have recommended this book to several boys in my class who are reluctant to read. They give it a thumbs up. The Titanic twist helps the story be attractive to all. I hope there will be more in this series - the characters are fun to follow as they try to right a wrong. I give this book 4/5 stars.

Julie B
3rd Grade Teacher
Guntersville, Alabama

Joanna said...

Great book! I normally would not choose a science fiction book to read, however I really enjoyed this fun adventure filled book. It kept my interest from beginning to end, I couldn't wait to hear what would happen next or where they would travel to next using the time travel bracelets.

Although all the main characters are boys, I think that girls will also find this book entertaining. I give this book a 4.5 rating.

Laurie said...

Excellent book for both boys and girls. Everyone wants their parents to give them unconditional love and approval and this book is about just that.

Very easy to read.

4.5 out of 5

Julia Pitau said...

The cover of the The Baseball Card Kid did not appeal to me at first glance, but onward I read enjoying the story line of a boy who destroyed his father's valuable baseball card. The story was plausible at first, traveling back in time to fix the error of his ways, but then it became too unrealistic and seemed to try and tie too many time periods together in one story. And to end the story with the belief that some pretty significant history was "corrected" was just too too much for me! No bombing of Hiroshima? No sinking of the Titanic? With the poor sketch work as illustrations, I rank this a Picnic-Basket 2 as it may provide picnic entertainment under the right conditions.

Media & Intervention Technician
Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

Anonymous said...

The Baseball Card Kid by Adam Osterweil starts out as an easy to follow adventure story about a boy traveling back in time through a comic book ad to try to get a baseball card before it sinks with the Titanic. I lost some interest as he traveled to the future but I think that students would find it an interesting read. It is hard to follow at times but if you can stick with it, it is entertaining. I would give it a 3 out of 5

roller coaster teacher said...

Madcap adventure! If I were an 11 year old boy or girl who loves roller coaster plot twists, goofy humor, fast-paced action, with time travel, science fiction and fantasy blended together - then I'd probably LOVE this book.

As an almost 40 year old English teacher who just devoured the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series, I balked at out-of-nowhere plot changes, predictable plot devices, below average to average character development, and generally hyperactive pace, and YET I laughed outright quite a bit. The dialogue is funny and extensions from "real world" to fantasy are clever.

I teach students who struggle with reading and writing, grades 6, 7 & 8, and I would definitely introduce this book to them.

Mrs. Horne said...

Honestly, this book was very hard for me to follow. I was enjoying it for the first 1/4 or so but when they left the Titanic it all got very confusing.

I do wonder if a student wouldn't enjoy it more because of their more vivid imaginations and ability to follow chaos!

I did like the idea of time travel, but I think they traveled too much. I am going to give it to a male student and see what he thinks - I have a feeling he will really like it!

Picnic Basket Rating: 2/5

Lindsay Horne
New Kent Middle School
New Kent, VA

Mary said...

i thought that this book would be about baseball - not so much which was kind of good. however, this book jumped around WAY too much. a decent read, a great plot idea but once they got back off the titanic it just kept jumping. (makes me wonder if the first one does the same thing) not a bad read, just a confusing one - however kids might like that. i would def try to get my 3rd grade boys to read this esp with all the time travel and vampires and whatnot.


Allentown School District
Allentown PA

Carrie Blagg, Cherokee Elementary said...

The Baseball Card Kid is the perfect book for a student looking for a fun book to read. It is time travel, adventure, and humor!

We are asked more times in a day by students to please help them find books that are fun to read and not dealing with heavy issues. This book is ideal!

I thought the book was entertaining; however, I was not a big fan of the illustrations. I give this book a 5 out of 5!

Michelle said...

I found The Baseball Card Kid to be fun adventure story. A book that includes time travel, the Titanic, vampires, and explains the butterfly effect is a can't miss read. I give it a 4.5 out 5, because the cover art may make it a tough sell to children browsing the shelves.

ahslibrarian said...

Strangely enough, The Baseball Card Kid is much less about baseball and baseball cards than the cover art portrays. Even time traveling to 1912 seems likely to connect to some baseball, but it does not.

Even without baseball, Osterweil sets up and executes a very readable and enjoyable action packed mystery. Perhaps his best writing is displayed in the episode aboard the luxury liner Titanic where the characters alter the course of history as the countdown to sideswiping an iceberg approaches.

The time travel gimmick works so well that Time Quest or Time Quest 2 might be a more appropriate title. The title fails and it misleads potential readers, but that can be overcome by talking about the fun and frustration shared by the characters. The time travel is fun, clever, and well planned to engage the reader’s mind well beyond the page. The characters possess the charisma to leap into almost any situation and emerge unscathed as evidenced by their encounter with a Transylvanian vampire.

Add this book to a classroom or library bookshelf with confidence, but know that those searching for only baseball will not find it here.

3 of 5

John Parker
Media Coordinator
Andrews High School
50 HS Drive
Andrews, NC 28901

Lemon the Duck said...

The "Basaeball Card Kid" was a little hard to follow at first since there seemed to be a prequel. Once I got into the story though I found it very engaging. It was fast-paced, humorous, and full of adventure. Time-travel, vampires, danger---what's not to love? The author had a lot of creativity and imagination. My favorite character was Answer Box!
I think this book would appeal to boy and girls. The story has a lot of twists and turns but it would be a great read aloud for late 1st or for 2nd grade. This book lends itself nicely for examining scene changes and transitions.
I would rate this book a 4 out of 5

Laura Backman
Reading Specialist
Author of "Lemon the Duck"

Pamela Kramer said...

I think that this is an excellent read for reluctant readers (boys). The combination of sports, vampires and monsters is irresistible. I was confused by the lack of mention of the first book anywhere on the cover or inside this book. I am assuming there was a first book...

I give this a 5--good for almost any picnic!

Pamela Kramer
Oak Terrace School
Highwood, Illinois

Anonymous said...

I am not sure how many of my students will pick up this book to read. By the look of the cover and the title you think that it is about baseball. I am not sure that the author made the story really work.
I think that the author needed to portray the story as a time travel adventure. I liked the premise that the two boys used a comic book to time travel. I also liked how when they met other children along the way that they continued to travel with them. I thought that the travel to the Titanic and having that time change was unrealistic.
I give this book a 2 in my picnic basket.

angel believer said...

The Baseball Card Kid is a roller coaster ride of a book. The author, Adam Osterweil, starts off the book with Brian’s reoccurring, factual nightmare. Brian accidentally damages a priceless baseball card of his father’s when he was much younger. Brian and his friend, Paul, try to get a mint-condition replacement card by going back in time. The “butterfly-effect” of these two time travelers goes from bad to worst. This book will keep the reader guessing what is going to happen next. Middle grade students will enjoy this book. It is a satisfying science fiction fantasy book. I give it a 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Mary Lou D.
Literacy facilitator
Bella Vista Elementary,
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Stacy B. said...

I never knew what to expect next in "The Baseball Card Kid". The boys certainly got themselves into and out of several adventures and this book would be a hit with its intended audience. I would definitely recommend this for your classroom library!

Tegan said...

I am still not sure what to think about this book. I liked the premise of going back in time and the problems it creates but the focus went all over the place: the Titanic, the distant future, Transylvania, 10 billion B.C. I didn't flow very well for me. I am sure some will like the adventure as well as the random jumps to different time periods, but for me it just bounced around too much.

The Black Family said...

This book was just OK for me. I enjoyed the quirky slapstick humor, but the plot and lack of character development left me wanting. Perhaps one must read the Comic Book Kid to get the full idea. I found that the characters never came upon a real problem or conflict, at least not one that they had trouble getting out of. I needed a better antagonist and better explanation. It seems like the author leaves you hanging a lot, like "I know this seems really hokey, but just trust me, it is ok."

I give this a 2 out of 5. Some of my 2-4th grade boys might enjoy it.

Lindsey B.
Title I teacher

Martine Battista said...

Well....I can see the kid appeal...lots of action, plot twists, disasters, surfing, vampires, comic books, time travel...but...WAY too much was going on. I think breaking the story up into smaller adventures might have worked better. I'm sure I'll have kids who will enjoy it, but it's not one that I will recommend often because the story line is so all over the place. I did not care for the cover either. I give it a 2.
Denair Elementary Library
Denair, CA

The Book Kid said...

This book is good!