Twelve-year-old House Jackson is the main character of this book about baseball, friendship, family, and Walt Whitman. The story begins with House sitting at the death-bed of Mr. Norwood Rhinehart Beauregard Boyd, known to the local children as Mean-Man Boyd (and less vocally, Baby-Eater Boyd). None of House's friends know that for the past year he has come to Mr. Boyd's house every day to read to him. Now he is the only one there with Mr. Boyd as he passes away.
House was the star pitcher for the Aurora County All-Stars, a baseball team with no coach, no uniforms, and no Little League affiliations, that played just one real game a year, on the fourth of July. House had missed last year's game, and had spent the year not playing baseball, healing from a broken elbow. This year's game would be his big comeback, until Frances Schotz (the girl responsible for his broken elbow) returns for the summer to conduct the Fourth of July Aurora County Birthday Pageant. Every kid under the age of fourteen has been signed up for it, but of course none of the All-Stars want to have anything to do with it. As the leader of the All-Stars, House must learn how to compromise in order to make this day special for everyone in the community, and honor what he learned from Norwood Boyd.
This was a very enjoyable read, and would be great for older kids or younger teens. I was surprised by the depth of this book, although it never feels heavy or difficult. House is a great character, very likable, lovable even, and his family is terrific. Most of the characters are good, not cookie cutters, which makes the details of this story more interesting. While this book is a good sports book, it has appeal for kids who like all kinds of stories.