The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggot - Book Review

Ignoring my best reading advice, I didn't read the back cover before I began The Prince of Fenway Park. I noticed a small boy wearing a Red Sox jersey and the title having Fenway Park on the cover, so I figured it'd be a baseball novel about a boy. My knowledge of baseball is tiny, but I do know about baseball's most famous curse (how could any American not know about the curse of the Bambino?) and I was aware that a few years ago the Red Sox broke that curse. This was about the extent of my Red Sox knowledge.

The story begins with Oscar, a boy who feels cursed and abandoned. His adoptive parents have split and his mother needs to leave Oscar with his father while she pursues a relationship with the 'King of Condos,' promising Oscar that if all goes right he might just end up as the 'Prince of Condos.' The story was progressing nicely. I liked Oscar. He had a strong voice and a relatable situation. Then, BAM!

What I thought was a simple baseball story turned into a ........ FANTASY novel. It seems there are creatures living under Fenway Park. And they are cursed too. And they need Oscar's help because he might just be the one to lift the curse.

After I got past that suspension of disbelief bubble pop, I settled in to a good elementary-level novel geared toward engaging male readers. The characters were unique and delightful. Oscar's father took on a better persona, Oscar rose to the occasion and the fantasy characters were a humorous quirky lot. The inclusion of baseball trivia and, especially, the appearance of some of baseball's legends was fantastic. I did pause over the tidy ending, but concluded that there are enough realistic divorce stories for kids to read.

Advisory: It's important to note that The Prince of Fenway Park tackles racial prejudice head-on. The author provides an afterword explaining her handling of the subject, which I thought was a fantastic discussion topic, though possibly a sticky one for many educators.

Recommended for fantasy readers, sports themed story enthusiasts and elementary classrooms.

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Genre: Fantasy. Age: 9-12. Pages: 336.

Themes: Non-Traditional Families, Determination, Individuality.
Thanks to Harper Collins Children for my advanced copy.Publisher: Harper Collins. Date: March 2009.
ISBN-10: 006087242X / ISBN-13: 978-0060872427

Buy The Prince of Fenway Park Here

Go check out the really cool book website with a teacher's guide, a writing contest and ... you might even get a free copy of the book HERE.

Julianna Baggot is a professor of English at my daughter's alma mater. She lives in my state and co-founded a program, Kids in Need - Books in Deed, focused on literacy for underprivileged children in Florida. You can visit her on her website or see more about her on Library Thing.

© 2007-2009 Cheryl Vanatti for

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