I love Deborah Wiles' stories. The Aurora County All-Stars is no exception! She has this incredible way of making me feel the small town in such a way that makes me yearn for a sleeping porch, and want to start canning some fruit!
This is a story about baseball, poetry and family. House Jackson is sitting in the room with 88 year old Mr. Norwood Rhinehart Beauregard Boyd when he takes his last breath. House calls the town doctor, and then high tails it out of there. Why did he leave so quickly, and what was he doing there in the first place?
House's first love is the baseball team that he and best friend Cleebo Wilson head up. Every year they have one official game against the team from the neighbouring county. Last year House had to miss the game. His arm was broken, you see. Broken because of none other than Frances (call me Finesse) Schotz and her modern dancing. This year, House is ready and he can't wait for the game.
But the town Mamas have another plan. They want all of their sons and daughters to be in a pageant celebrating the town's history, because golden son and soap opera actor Dr. Dan is coming back into town. And who is going to direct this play that just happens to fall on the same day as the annual baseball game? Miss Finesse Schotz, that's who!
What follows is a beautifully layered story about family history, death, memories, poetry and baseball. And all of the characters cast : House, Cleebo, Honey, Frances, Ruby Lavendar (!), Leonard, and all of the townsfolk, have a magic to them. This is a quiet sort of story that will stay with the reader for a long time.