Don't you just love the small independent bookstores? I recently visited my favorite one, Cover to Cover to Cover Bookstore in Columbus, Ohio and found several things I wasn't looking for, and one I didn't expect to see for several more days. I was very excited to find Game 3 of the Barnstormer series by Loren Long and Phil Bildner on the shelf. If you're not familiar with this series, it involves the Payne family, Griffith, Ruby, Graham, and their mother Elizabeth. They are traveling with a barnstorming baseball team around the turn of the century. The players all served in Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders along with the Mr. Payne who died under some mysterious circumstances. Each book involves a different game in a different city that played an important role in the beginnings of baseball. Game 1 is in Cincinnati, Game 2, Louisville, and Game 3, Chicago. Each book includes history, not only of baseball, but also the cities in which they are played.
The team is being followed by the mysterious Chancellor for reasons that are not completely clear yet. Magical things happen during each game that also reflect the history of each city and have something to do with a mysterious baseball with a hole in it that the children possess. All in all, great stories, outstanding illustrations and enough suspense to keep you reading.
I found the series while looking for some good chapter books for second or third grade boys, but these books can be enjoyed by all elementary kids. I can't wait for Game 4 coming sometime in the spring of 2009. Hopefully I'll spot it earlier than expected too, on a future visit to my favorite bookstore.