cover image Two Hot Dogs with Everything

Two Hot Dogs with Everything

Paul Haven, , illus. by Tim Jessell. . Random, $15.95 (307pp) ISBN 978-0-375-83348-9

Danny Gurkin, 11, doesn't just root for the Sluggers, he believes his support will alter their cellar-dwelling status. On game day, he follows a precise set of rituals—eating two hot dogs, fully dressed, from the same vendor, being in front of the TV for the first pitch, closing the windows when there's a righty on the mound, etc. When he learns of plans to demolish the palatial home of the former Sluggers owner, a bubble-gum tycoon, he and two friends cycle 30 miles to see it, hoping to find a way to save the mansion. During a tour, Danny pockets some hidden and foul-smelling bubble gum, which he unwraps and pops into his mouth later that day—just as his team rallies to win a game in the ninth. A newspaper story outlining Danny's superstitions—and their apparent effectiveness as the Sluggers go on a winning streak—earns him a spot in the dugout as the team's lucky charm. The rather tedious pace (and length) of the narrative diminishes the appealing elements of this baseball tall tale (which includes outlandish subplots about the poisonous relations between the bubble-gum tycoon and his brother, a legendary missing shortstop and a mayoral election). Still, there's lots of baseball action for fans, and though first novelist Haven stops the story before the fate of the Sluggers is fully revealed, the outcome is never really in question. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)