cover image Coco Grimes

Coco Grimes

Mary Stolz, Maty Stolz. HarperCollins Publishers, $14 (89pp) ISBN 978-0-06-024232-9

In the fourth book about Thomas and Grandfather (last seen in Stealing Home ), baseball proves more than just an ongoing passion shared by the two; for Thomas, it also offers a provocative window onto the past. When their friend Mr. McCallam invites them to Miami, Thomas is thrilled by the prospect of meeting Coco Grimes, an old-time ballplayer from the Negro Leagues. The much-anticipated visit proves both less and more than Thomas has counted on, however: Coco is difficult--rambling, forgetful and cantankerous--but it is his enfeebled memory that permits an unexpected moment of connection between them at the end. Stolz's low-key narrative is distinguished by precisely defined characters, from Thomas's gentle, old-fashioned grandfather to his pungent Aunt Linzy to the mercurial Coco himself. The world they inhabit is, refreshingly, a benign and caring one on the whole; its innocence is saved from unreality by both the presence of small, daily trials--rain on a birthday party, an unreliable truck--and the encounter Thomas has with Coco, unsettling but rich, and sure to linger in the reader's memory. Ages 8-11. (May)