Title: The Kid From TomkinsvilleUntitled-3
Author: John R. Tunis
Pages: 278
Recommended Ages: 12 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★

I had just read a mini-biography of John R. Tunis when I found this book. So, of course, I had to buy it…

The Story.

Roy Tucker isn’t a pro. Yet here he is at the Brooklyn Dodgers’ spring training camp, being trained to join the ranks of their pitchers. He would have never dreamed that the workouts would be so intense, the pitching sessions so straining, the pressures so exhausting… Yet, if he can just hold out, he’ll have the chance to play in the Majors!

Will Roy falter under the strain of the professional athlete’s life? Or will he bring the Dodgers to victory?

Discussion.

The Kid From Tomkinsville is a sports story. There’s no denying it. Most of the action occurs either on the playing field, the practice field, or during coaching/recruiting sessions. Passion for the game is communicated and celebrated.

But The Kid From Tomkinsville is, even more importantly, a story of relationships and discipleship. Roy arrives at the Brooklyn Dodgers recruiting camp raw. He knows his own game, but knows nothing of the will-breaking work that is to be done. He knows nothing of the emotional roller coaster ride that will attends the wins and losses. He knows nothing of the dirt. And he knows nothing of how he will long to quit.

But he is not left in this state. Disillusionment sets in almost at once. His insecurities break out. He just wants to go home. And it is at this junction that Dave Leonard, veteran catcher, steps in. He disciples Roy in the tricks of the game. He gives him moral encouragement. He challenges him to face his own weaknesses and overcome them. He urges him to take command of himself; to discipline himself and to not be controlled by his fears.

And this is why I liked The Kid From Tomkinsville. Because even though it was told in the setting of professional sports, it was a story that emphasized character development and self-discipline. Also, The Kid was not fairy tale-ish – there are many hard, sad moments that Roy must face.

Cautions.

Cigarettes are smoked and drinks consumed in several scenes. This is very casually done.

‘Gosh’ is used nine times, ‘darn’ three, ‘shoot’ twice, and ‘God’, ‘dickens’ and ‘son of a gun’ once each.

Conclusion. An excellent, encouraging read for children.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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