Getting to First Base with Danalda Chase
Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.
Beam has hit an in-the-park home run with his first novel for
Throughout elementary school, Darcy Spillman has shared friendship and
a passion for baseball with Ralph Peterson and Dwight Middlebury. Having
concluded their atom baseball years, the trio anticipate next spring’s
peewee team tryouts. But before then, their friendship is tested and
changes as they enter junior high and encounter some of the
developmental tasks of adolescence.
Darcy, socially labelled as an in-betweener in his new school, truly
finds himself in an in-between situation when he seemingly has to choose
between Ralph, who, having discovered girls, drama, and the cool crowd,
has lost interest in baseball, and the definitely most uncool Dwight,
who elects to umpire, not play, baseball. Outside of school, Darcy must
deal with his emotions as his parents place his beloved baseball-loving
but mentally failing 83-year-old grandfather in a retirement home.
And then there is the major problem contained within the book’s
title: how to get to kiss Danalda Chase, a member of the cool crowd and
one of the school’s three best-looking girls. Unskilled in the game of
love but knowledgeable about baseball, Darcy treats his quest
metaphorically as an at-bat, his goal being just to get on base. Darcy
receives unexpected help from a new schoolmate, Kamna Singh, who
provides him with tips on attracting girls. Readers recognize well
before Darcy does that Kamna is really the girl for him. Beam maintains
the baseball metaphor throughout, including introducing chapters with
either baseball terms and their definitions or brief player/character
profiles. Highly recommended.