Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Summer My Father Was Ten

When initially looking at this book, I had a completely different idea about what it was going to be about. Looking at the cover, you see a boy in a field with a baseball and glove, so in my mind, I thought I would be opening up a book about a father's tale of a childhood baseball season. I was wrong. This book was so much more.

The Summer My Father Was Ten is an inspiring story about right and wrong. It was a story about doing good, when the people around you don't always choose to. It's about forgiveness and what that means to children and adults.

Through the first few pages of the book, I wondered how the introduction of Mr. Bellavista had anything to do with the father playing baseball (as this was still what I expected the book to be about). He explained where Mr. Bellavista lived and all of the vegetables he grew. The author kept me curious by giving an elaborate introduction to Mr. Bellavista and his home, only to then explain how the kids would call him "Old Spaghetti Man." This is when I began to understand that this book was going to be about more than a summer full of baseball.

The summer his father was ten, his father made a poor decision, but a decision many ten year olds might make. He went into Mr. Bellavista's garden and used the tomatoes as baseballs. They ruined the tomato garden. The author and illustrator created a fantastic picture using words and illustrations, depicting the joy the kids had when they were playing, and then on the next page, the remorse his father had when Mr. Bellavista caught them. Showing his father on the left side of the book, further back and drawn smaller than Mr. Bellavista, gave me the understanding that he was incredibly sorry about the actions he took.

It was towards the end of the book that the characters were able to show the values I wrote about at the beginning -- right and wrong, doing good things and forgiveness. The boy asked to rebuild the garden with Mr. Bellavista, when none of his friends seemed to care about it. Mr. Bellavista showed forgiveness by allowing him to rebuild with him and even brought many of the vegetables to his family.

This book depicted how a friendship could be built in unlikely places and how the lessons learned in your childhood could shape the rest of your life. It allows for the reader to think about the author's words and really look at the facial expressions of the characters to understand how they are feeling in this situation and determine for themselves how they may have acted and reacted in a similar situation. It was a good read, and worth sharing with kids at any age.

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