Finding Buck McHenry
by Alfred Slote A Harper Trophy book, copyright 1991
This book has it all — mystery, history, drama, engaging characters and a heart-warming plot. It all begins when eleven year old baseball player and baseball card enthusiast Jason Ross gets cut from his Little League team. A school custodian, Mack Henry, was watching the practice game where Jason didn’t beat out the throw to first base. When Jason returns the bases to the school, Mr. Henry shows him how he could have beat out that throw. Then Jason takes the initiative, although bitterly disappointed, to recruit other “rejects” for the new expansion team for the league.
The new team is being formed because TV sports broadcast star has moved to town with his eleven year old daughter Kim, and he wants to have a team where she can play. It turns out Mr. Henry’s grandson Aaron has moved to town also and just happens to have a great arm. Jason recruits exactly two other players for the new team, and they are Kim and Aaron. He also finds out that Mr. Henry used to play for the old Negro Leagues and learns about a world he never knew existed. Mr. Henry agrees to be their coach and their team is on the way.
Jason seeks more knowledge about the Negro Leagues. He learns about the greats of days gone by who never got a chance to play in the majors. He sees an old Negro League baseball card and becomes convinced that Mr. Henry is the great Buck McHenry, one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived. Mystery and history merge effectively in this page turner of a book. The friendship of these three children is one of the important elements of this book. Kim is now living with her father after his recent divorce in a huge, empty house. Aaron has suffered a tremendous loss in his life and has lost all his joy in living.
Can these 3 kids and a school custodian put together a competitive team in the Little League? Can Kim compete with the boys? Can Aaron find his way back into the world? Can Jason solve the mystery of the great Buck McHenry? This book gives children a chance to learn more about friendship, baseball and fairness while reading a great book. This is a great book for boys and girls to enjoy. Finding Buck McHenry also makes a great family read-aloud. When my own son was in elementary school, I read it aloud to his class. I highly recommend this for Barrow Buddies!
~Reviewed by Jan Mullins~