TITLE: Miracle Mud: Lena Blackburne and the Secret Mud That Changed Baseball
AUTHOR: David A. Kelly
ILLUSTRATOR: Oliver Dominguez
PUBLICATION INFO: Millbrook, 2013
ISBN: 13: 978-0-7613-8092-4
INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 7 to 11
GENRE: nonfiction, history
OPENING and SYNOPSIS:
“Lena Blackburne wanted to be a famous baseball player. But instead, he discovered mud. Baseball mud. His special, secret mud changed the game of baseball.”
Kelly’s killer opening perfectly sums up the whole book. But if that’s not enough, here’s the publisher’s summary:
“Lena Blackburne loved baseball. He watched it, he played it, he coached it. But he didn’t love the ways players broke in new baseballs. Tired of soggy, blackened, stinky baseballs, he found a better way. Thanks to a well-timed fishing trip and a top-secret mud recipe, Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud was born. For seventy-five years, baseball teams have used Lena’s magic mud to prepare baseballs before every game. Read the story of how Lena’s mud went from a riverbank to the major leagues and all the way to the Hall of Fame.”
THEMES/TOPICS: history, sports
WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I heard a lot of chatter about this book when it first came out and have been looking forward to reading it. This book has all the elements that make for great nonfiction. First, it’s got a strong hook. This is the kind of story you hope to stumble upon as a writer, because you just know it’s going to sell. Second, it’s well written. Kelly’s opening is worth studying. In the first 25 words, he sets up the entire story. You know exactly what this book is going to be about. Kelly includes an informative author’s note. My only critique is that I would have liked an abbreviated bibliography to see the depth of his research.
- One of my all-time favorite museums, San Fran’s Exploratorium, has a great site dedicated to the Science of Baseball. It’s chock full of stories and experiments.
- Read about the science of baseball at ScienceNews for Students.
- It’s a bit late in the season, but take in a minor league baseball game sometime. Interview the players. How do they break in new baseballs?
- Better yet, visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and see the Miracle Mud on display.
Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.
26 thoughts on “PPBF: Miracle Mud”
LOVE that opening – and the cover. Go ahead and ask Kelly for his resources!
Ha, ha. I’m just always curious about people’s research processes. I am up to my eyeballs in letters and newspapers right now.
They “mine” the mud not far from where I live. I wonder how big the property is that they get it from? Will it be gone someday? Guess I’ll have to read Kelly’s book to see.
This would be a great book for you, Wendy. I’m not sure how Lena kept the location a secret for so long.
Leave it to you to find this great book for boys. I never knew this fact about baseballs. Great cover!
Oh, this one was not hard to find, Patricia. It was getting a lot of rave reviews upon release. I’ve just had to wait until my library got a copy!
I never knew about this, either. You do know there is a great fun PB fiction story in what you have “unearthed” here. 🙂
The best nonfiction stories often read like fiction, in my opinion. History and biography especially lend themselves to this kind of strong storytelling.
I would like to find some miracle mud! I’ll have to check this book out and find out where they get that stuff. Thanks!
Oh, it’s a big secret. If you can figure it out, “good on you” as my Aussie friends would say.
Fascinating and new to me!
Oh, Joanna, you would love this book since you are such a NF fan. I read the first 30 words, and said “wow!”
Wow, what a cool book! I didn’t know about the “mud” — now I’m going to have to read this book. (I *am* a baseball fan, so that’s a start!)
Hmmm, I wonder if Canadian teams use the secret mud.
Even though I’m not big on sports, this one sounds fascinating, Kirsten. Thanks for sharing it!
Jarm, I’m not a huge baseball fan, but this book’s focus is history. As a mentor text for writing slice-of-life histories, it can’t be beat.
Cool! I love nonfiction books like these! Very cool! 😀
What a great topic! I’m always impressed by these non-fiction picture books. My kiddo won’t sit still for many of them. So, I read them by myself. Or we study the illustrations.
Stacy, that’s interesting. These are not my kids’ favorites either. They prefer more encyclopedic nonfiction with great pictures — like DK.
You weren’t kidding about the hook. This sounds like a great book for readers and writers alike. And now I have another excuse to get to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Who knew there’d be mud there Cool!
I know. Cooperstown, here we come!
Fascinating. Thanks for sharing it! Will have to check it out and I’m not even a sports fan.
Darshana, Carol Hinz at Millbrook raved about it. It’s a great book to study.
This sounds like a perfect non-fiction for kids…and adults as well…I’m anxious to get a hold of a copy. And I really appreciate you pointing out the opening lines and encouraging us to study this pitch perfect hook…great review, Kirsten!
I’ll take that as a high compliment coming from you!
This looks very interesting, Kirsten! I don’t know much beyond the basics of baseball, so I’d like to read this and find out about that mud! Thanks for adding this to our list!