Keystone Kids


Book: Keystone Kids

Author: John R. Tunis

Cover Illustrator: Paul Bacon

Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books, republished 1990

ISBN-13: 9780152056346 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0152056343 Hardcover

ISBN-13: ‎978-0152004958 Paperback

ISBN-10: ‎0152004955 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: ‎ 9 – 12

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category:  Period fiction

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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     Tunis, John R.  Keystone Kids (Published in 1943 by Harcourt Brace).  Spike Russell at shortstop and his younger brother Bob on second base play minor league baseball with the Nashville Vols under manager Grouchy Devine.   Both are orphans and become known as the “Keystone Kids” because of the complete coordination with which they work together.  They come up to join the Brooklyn Dodgers under manager Ginger Crane.  Then Spike becomes the youthful manager of the Dodgers and is confronted with more than the stresses and strains of a mere game. The situation that threatens to split the team and even menaces the understanding between Spike and his brother is dissension and prejudice against the new Jewish rookie catcher Jocko Klein.  Can Spike bring the team together?  Will Jocko ever be accepted by the others?  And what happens between Spike and Bob as a result of Bob’s bias against the “Jew Boy”?

    The only major league sport that I ever cared anything about is baseball.  I was born and raised a confirmed Cincinnati Reds fan.  John R. Tunis (1889–1975) was a novelist and sportswriter best remembered for his series of novels about the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s and ’50s.  Keystone Kids is the only one that I have read.  In addition to a lot of common euphemisms (gosh, doggone, gee, heck, golly, darned), the “d” and “h” words are, sad to say, each used a couple of times, and there are references to drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, and chewing tobacco.  The novel, although it is filled with action and struggle, is not just a story of sport. Here one will find, as in Tunis’s other books, belief in the importance of principle as against expediency, and courage in facing questions which are paramount in American life as it deals with one of the vital issues still confronting us even today—racial prejudice.

      Parents wishing to instill a sense of conscience in their kids, especially those who like baseball, could do a whole lot worse than getting them any of the baseball books by Tunis. Keystone Kids is listed as Book 2 of 3 in “The Brooklyn Dodgers” series.  Book 1 is The Kid from Tomkinsville, and Book 3 is World Series.   However, Amazon lists it as one of eight, Books 4-8 being Rookie of the Year, The Kid Comes Back, Highpockets, Young Razzle, and Schoolboy Johnson.

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