Under the Baseball Moon

John H. Ritter, Author . Philomel $16.99 (283p) ISBN 978-0-399-23623-5

The lyrical title of Ritter's latest may mislead fans of his terrific previous book, The Boy Who Saved Baseball . The subject here is actually music, and the hero is a 16-year-old skateboarding trumpeter named Andy Ramos, who's in love with a softball pitcher. What this work shares with Boy is a realistic setting infused with fable. This time Ritter riffs on a legend about a blues musician who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for stardom. Becoming a world-class trumpeter is just what Andy has in mind as he begins the summer, intent on devoting each day to the launch of his musical career. Then Glory Martinez, his childhood nemesis, returns to Ocean Beach, now a gorgeous teen with a wicked curveball and outsize dreams of her own. The two quickly discover that each brings out the best in the other's performance, which becomes problematic when various concert dates conflict with tournament schedules. An eerie stranger in black also appears who knows a great deal about Andy's dreams, talks in riddles and makes promises too good for Andy to pass up. Ritter's dialogue crackles with the rhythms of the funky California setting, and Andy's passion and ambition give the novel its heartbeat. "A song's journey," he learns, "is not complete until it reaches an audience," and while this solid performance probably won't appeal to the readers who loved Boy , it ought to introduce Ritter to a new crowd: music lovers and romantics. Ages 11-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/08/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 283 pages - 978-0-14-241090-5
Prebound-Glued - 283 pages - 978-0-7569-8934-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-4881-9
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