PPBF: Miracle Mud

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

SOURCE:  library


GENRE: nonfiction, history


“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”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

Leave a Reply to Kirsten Larson Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s