HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Highest Hit
Author: Nancy Willard
Illustrator: Emily Arnold McCully
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers, republished 1993
ISBN-13: 978-0613716161 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0613716167 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0152342791 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0152342796 Paperback
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ** 2 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Willard, Nancy. The Highest Hit (published in 1978 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc., 757 Third Ave., New York City, NY 10017; republished in 1983 by Scholastic Book Services, a division of Scholastic Magazines Inc., 50 W. 14th St., New York City, NY 10036). Kate Carpenter Schmidt lives with her dad, mom, and older sister Ellen. She is a collector of about 500 baseball cards, the managing editor of a neighborhood newspaper, an avid reader, and a dabbler in various philanthropies. However, her main goal is to establish an unusual record for the Guinness Book of World Records. The young girl involves her family and friends in her many schemes, giving her mother three free baseball lessons for her birthday and joining with a neighborhood girl named Ursula to enter a pet show so that they can win a watch. What happens when Kate comes down with measles? Do she and Ursula win the prize? And can Kate learn to discriminate between what is real and what is fake?
Supposedly written in “An imaginative style, [with] funny exchanges, and true-to-life details that children will enjoy” (Booklist), this book did not make any sense to me. More zany than actually funny, it was hard for me to follow because I could detect no definite plot to tie things together. The story seemed to lurch from one supposedly humorous incident to another in a disconnected, somewhat surreal kind of way that reminded me of the theatre of the absurd. Also, the words “Lord” and “God” are used as interjections. In addition, Kate dreams that when she is a pitcher in the major leagues, she will have a wad of tobacco in her mouth. And whenever she visits her neighbor Mr. Goldberg, she fetches him a can of beer from his refrigerator which he sips in her presence. Ugh! I simply did not care for The Highest Hit.