Out in Left Field


Poor Donald. After catching a pop-fly with his forehead in the annual summer game against Melody School, he’s lost more than the game; he’s lost his reputation. The kids at school can’t stop teasing him about it. But Donald is determined to make everyone forget about his blunder – by becoming a superstar. In what, he’s not quite sure, but he’s willing to give anything a try: archery, driving, hockey, skiing, singing. The only problem is, all of his new ventures fail. Fail so spectacularly that they give the kids at school something else to tease him about. But Donald has grit, if nothing else, and sticks to his quest to discover his niche, while just trying to survive sixth grade.

Eleven-year-old Donald narrates the same way he approaches each new sport – with gusto. It’s a delight to follow him through the book, whether doing his daily chores on the struggling family farm (and crossing my fingers along with his mom and dad that they’ll be able to put in electricity next year) or boldly trying something that I know will end in disaster. Lemna captures what it’s like to grow up in rural Montana in the years after World War II, from the happy to the sad to the downright embarrassing. A fun read for 8- to12-year-olds.

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12 of the best stories selected from the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award






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