Release Date: Coming Soon!
(As given by the author)
Benny Davies is a mischievous twelve-year old who always has a 'plan.' Whether it's skipping school to go see a professional baseball game or throwing snowballs at girls, he has a knack for getting caught in his misadventures. His spunky seven-year old brother, Frank, is always keen to follow his brother, but isn't afraid to go toe-to-toe when push comes to shove.
Set in a small town outside of Chicago, the Davies boys have an ordinary mid-west lifestyle with baseball and girls topping the list. Tara, the girl-next-door, not only has Benny's eye, but is also the top softball player in the county. She and Benny have an easy friendship, though Benny secretly hopes it could be more.
When Benny and Frank's father is unexpectedly killed in a car accident, the family is saddled with bills that Frank's mother can't cover with her meager salary as a cashier at the local grocer. In addition, they find out they are without insurance - even more devastating when Mrs. Davies shares a secret that could push them further into debt.
The family gets more than a family pet with Digger, the rescue dog that the boys adopt. Part hero, protector and rescuer, the lovable canine becomes the family's saving grace, no matter how annoying his table manners and eating habits are. Interwoven with Chicago sporting teams and their own baseball Cinderella story, the Davies brothers battle the challenges that come their way and ultimately find happiness in this nostalgic coming of age story.
Benny Davies and his brother, Frank, are still reeling from the accident that killed their father, when Benny befriends a stray dog, Harvey, at the local animal shelter. Learning that the shelter has "Harvey" scheduled for euthanasia, Benny masterminds a plan to save him, not realizing that Harvey may very well be his family's salvation.
Using the game of baseball as a backdrop, Mr. Ball mesmerizes the reader with the tale of Benny, a modern-day "Dennis the Menace." Heavy with hijinks, but equally as heavy with heart, Benny, along with his little brother, Frank, kept the pace frantic as I turned the pages to find out what would happen next. Mr. Ball manages to weave a deeply touching story in a fairly light-hearted way by writing in the voice of a pre-teen boy struggling with adult issues and balancing it with a boys' true love of baseball.
Equally weighted in the book is the plight of shelter and endangered animals. The dog that comes to be rescued, and ultimately rescues the family, is Harvey, or Digger, as renamed by Benny and Frank. Mr. Ball used his own experience of rescuing a dog following Hurricane Katrina as the namesake for his book, as well as describing Digger as a guardian angel - with "four legs, an aversion to thunderstorms, and a fondness for ice cream."
I truly enjoyed reading about Benny, Frank, and Digger. While this story has been done, at least as far as the redeeming grace of man's best friend, I highly encourage any animal lover (or Cubs loyalist) to give this book a go. Although deep in subject matter, there is subtle and playful humor, especially relating to the Cubbies, all written in a sincere voice. I would eagerly review any future work for Mr. Ball.
5 out of 5 stars!
*A paperback copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.