What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that several violent events are referred to, though not in detail, including the story of when Maggie's dad shatters his leg on duty as a firefighter. More significant is a scene recalling an incident during the Korean War when innocent civilians -- including children -- are shot while hiding underneath a bridge. Neither account is graphic, but Park does mention in the Author's Note that the bridge tragedy is "loosely" based on something that happened during the actual war.
What's the story?
Maggie Fortini has been a fiercely loyal Brooklyn Dodgers fan for as long as she can remember. But since her own brother, Joey-Mick, doesn't take her interest in baseball seriously, she finds an ally and friend in Jim, the fireman at her dad's work. It's Jim who teaches her to record baseball statistics, or "keep score." For a long time, Maggie's ups and downs come with the Dodgers' wins and losses until the Korean War begins and a thing like baseball begins to seem, well, more important than ever.
Is it any good?
You don't have to like baseball to be a fan of Linda Sue Park. But if you read her Newbery Award-winner A Single Shard, you probably already are. Her semi-autobiographical novel KEEPING SCORE cleverly juxtaposes the rivalry among three '50s New York baseball teams against the conflict of the Korean War.
Through the eyes of Maggie, Park creates a detailed world of 1950s Brooklyn. As readers, we only know what Maggie knows and so events such as the Korean War and even Dodgers games that have long since become legend still play out with suspense. We also experience the frustration of being a kid, when your only information about life comes from adults who don't always tell you the whole truth. Thus, the fact that Maggie doesn't understand the reasons behind the Korean War is made especially poignant when we realize that the adults around her who have all the facts probably don't understand it either.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the Korean War and why it was fought. How is it different from and similar to the Iraq war? In her author's note, Park mentions several books she used for research, including William Dannenmaier's, We Were Innocents: An Infantryman in Korea and Linda Granfield's, I Remember Korea: Veterans Tell Their Stories of the Korean War, 1950-1953. On a lighter note, kids might also want to know more about the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers, who welcomed the first black player -- Jackie Robinson -- into Major League Baseball.