One-Handed Catch

By: M.J. Auch

2006, Henry Holt and Company

Front Cover
Front Cover

  • Ages: 9-12
  • Type: chapter book, biographical
  • Length: 256 pages
  • Categories: acceptance, adversity, friendship, responsibility, perseverance, family, tough love

Main character(s):
  • Norm, an 11 year old baseball fanatic who loses his hand in a bizarre meat grinding accident
  • Leon, Norm's best friend

  • From School Library Journal
    Set just after World War II, Auch's novel tells of 11-year-old Norm, whose family owns a meat market. On the Fourth of July, while helping his dad in the store, he gets his hand caught in the meat grinder and loses it. He then faces the challenges of one-handed shoe tying, band practice, and his dream of being a baseball player. The climax is, of course, the big game and Norm's chance to prove himself to his peers and community. The gruesome accident is the only jarring note in this otherwise light, humorous tale. Norm's inner voice is generally calm, and his jocular exchanges with his friend Leon provide comic relief. His mother's fierce attempts to keep her son independent and his father's silent guilt round out the family picture that feels immediate in many ways, even though the story is set in 1946. While the rosy worldview may be slightly exaggerated, there's a small-town interconnectedness between the episodic chapters that will keep the pages turning. One-Handed Catch is an enjoyable read on the popular theme of overcoming adversity. Pitch it alongside Joseph Bruchac's The Warriors (Darby Creek) and John H. Ritter's The Boy Who Saved Baseball (Philomel, both 2003) as a sports fiction title.–Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  • From **Booklist**
    A strong sense of purpose, leavened by generous doses of humor and post-World War II period detail, drives this story of a resilient middle-grader who demonstrates that having one hand is an opportunity rather than a handicap. Having lost his left hand to a meat grinder, Norm finds his world has become a complicated place, where even common activities such as tying shoelaces or playing baseball seem impossible. However, with plenty of pushing from his tough-love mother, who challenges him to get things done and firmly checks his efforts to trade on his disability to get special treatment, Norm not only gets by but also blossoms. He finds ways to display both musical and artistic talent as he stubbornly and inventively teaches himself to play ball well enough to earn a spot on a summer league team. Loosely based on childhood experiences of the author's husband, this story offers both inspiration and useful information, deftly wrapped in an engaging narrative. John Peters
    Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.
  • Kids' Wings: //

Personal Recommendation:

One-Handed Catch is a story for people of all ages. Norm Schmidt is an 11-year old boy whose dream is to play baseball. It's the summer of 1942, and instead of spending the Fourth of July setting off firecrackers with his best friend, Leon, Norm spends it in the hospital. While working in his father's butcher shop, Norm has a horrible accident using the meat grinder, which results in him losing his left hand. At first, his dreams of playing baseball and being normal are shattered. However, thanks to some tough love from his parents and unwavering friendhip from Leon, Norm learns to enjoy life and even play baseball. This compelling story, loosely based upon the author's husband, will be enjoyed from start to finish. One-Handed Catch has been the recipient of many prestigious accolades including being nominated for the 2008-2009 Bluebonnet List, 2008 Kids' Wings Award, 2008 Junior Library Guild Selection.

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Posted by: Christen Howe and Michelle White