by Mick Cochrane, published 2009
“The knuckleball wasn’t just a pitch. It was an attitude toward life; it was a way of being in the world. It was a philosophy. “You don’t aim a butterfly,” her father used to say. “You release it.”
I was drawn to this book by its title, as I was searching for a children’s book that would inspire girls. However, when I finished this very quick reading book, it felt like this was a book anyone could love. Boys who love baseball could surely appreciate it. Girls who want to try something out of the ordinary could love it. I certainly loved it.
Part of the appeal of this children’s book is the writer’s style. Like a fast-paced baseball game, or a good pitcher, there are no wasted words, no useless side trips. The story moves on relentlessly to a fabulous and heartwarming conclusion. The characters are real and likeable. And, surprisingly, the book takes on a serious topic: grieving for a parent who has died. All in the context of a children’s book about baseball and throwing knuckleball pitches.
The writer of this children’s book not only has a great sense of humor, he seems very able to capture the contemporary culture and way of speaking and elevating it to something approaching wonderful literature. Most often today’s culture comes across shallow and crass in a children’s book. But not here. Everything is done with great sensitivity and clarity, as the story is told through the eyes of an eighth grade girl. Thumbs up for this one. Suitable for any age over 9, but probably most appreciated by the 11-13 year olds, is my guess.