Free Baseball. Sue Corbett; Penguin Group, 2006 (Puffin reprint 2008)
Grade Level: 3 – 5
ISBN & Cost: 0142410802
ISBN 978-0142410806 $5.99
Blanket Permission to Reproduce Book Jackets:
Preferred wording: Free Baseball by Sue Corbett. Copyright © 2006. Used with permission of Dutton Children’s Books, a division Penguin Young Readers Group.
Synopsis: Felix knows very little about his father, and what he knows is that his father is a baseball legend in Cuba. Tired of not knowing more Felix finds himself as a stowaway on a visiting Florida baseball team’s bus hoping to get some answers!
Free Baseball is a touching and entertaining story about a boy’s quest to know about his father. Using the story of baseball, a favorite pastime in Cuba and the United States, Sue Corbett gives readers a glimpse into the issues facing Cuban immigrants when they come to the United States. She also addresses the hardships of single-parent families. Third graders and older students will be drawn to the mystery of Felix’s father and what happened to him, relate to Corbett’s endearing and fun characters, and will enjoy the thrill of the baseball game.
Themes: Cuba, Immigration, baseball, single-parent families, the American Dream
Author information: According to her website Sue Corbett is the daughter of Irish immigrants, grew up in New York, started her career as a journalist, loves baseball (author of Fall Ball) , and her first novel, 12 Again was the International Reading Association honor book and won the 2006 California Young Readers Medal. http://www.suecorbett.com/ You can also read about her at Kids Read: http://www.kidsreads.com/reviews/0525471200.asp
Discussion Questions: Come up with 3 to 5 broad questions students could discuss after reading the book.
- Do you know where you ancestors may have come from before they settled in the United States?
- If you could interview anybody in your family about your family tree and background, who would you ask and why?
- What are some of the challenges immigrants face in the country they settle in?
- What are some of the challenges single-parent families face and how can they overcome some of them? How did talking with each other help Felix and his mother understand each other better?
- Felix loved being a part of The Miracle’s baseball team even though the work was hard and not glamorous. Do you see yourself as a team member in your family and in your class? Maybe you belong to other kinds of teams as well. What is your role on these different teams?
- Felix was an immigrant to the United States from Cuba, interview members of your family to learn about where you ancestors came from. Create a poster that visually demonstrates your family’s heritage. (Standard 1, Benchmark 3)
- The United States is a nation made up of immigrants, using different resources (autobiographies, biographies, newspapers, etc.) do some research and write a one page paper about one famous United States immigrant and their contributions to this country. Present a summary of your paper to your fellow students (Standard 9, Benchmark 2)
- Forming different teams and using different resources (encyclopedias, Almanac, newspapers, etc) research Cuba and create a diagram (e.g. Venn diagram) or chart(s) to demonstrate differences and similarities between Cuba and the United States. (Standard 11, Benchmark 2)