Most people call her Maggie. Her brother, Joey-Mick, calls her Mags, Mom calls her Margaret Olivia Fortini (when she’s angry). Dad always calls her Maggie-o—after Joe DiMaggio, his favorite baseball player. Maggie and Joey-Mick aren’t Yankee fans like Dad: their team is the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although Maggie doesn’t play baseball herself, she knows the game. She can recite the players’ stats and understand complicated plays; she cheers when the Dodgers win—and suffers when they lose. But even with Maggie’s support and prayers, the Dodgers fail to win the World Series, season after season. Adding to her disappointment, the letters she sends to her friend and baseball mentor, Jim—serving in the army in Korea—aren’t answered.
No matter what she does, Maggie can’t seem to break Jim’s long silence. Or help the Dodgers. Will anything she tries ever make a difference?
Linda Sue Park is the author of the Newbery medal winner A Single Shard. Her Clarion titles include five other novels, two picture books, and a book of poetry. Ms. Park grew up in the Chicago area and was an ardent baseball fan as a child. She says of Keeping Score, “For the scenes depicting Maggie’s disappointment at the Dodgers’ many near-misses, I was able—alas!—to draw on many memories from my years as a Cubs’ fan.” She is now a fan of the New York Mets, continuing the cycle of disappointment and hope. She lives with her family in Rochester, New York. Her website is www.lindasuepark.com
“Instead of spooling randomly for articles about the war, Maggie was now looking for something specific. It made the search go much more quickly.” (p. 95)
Maggie learned that having a purpose while you’re reading makes it much easier to stay focused and to comprehend what you’re reading. Now you try it in one of the following ways:
Read chapters 1 and 2 and find at least ten facts about Maggie. Or read the lead article in your local newspaper and answer the five journalistic questions: Who, What, When, Where and Why.
Maggie gets hooked on the local paper when she realizes there is a sports section and articles about her favorite team. Explore your own local paper and clip out at least three things you find interesting and discuss in a short journal response why you picked them.
The letters and packages Maggie sent to Jim and Jay were important to them but also to Maggie. Find a pen pal or write to someone who is serving our country in the military, Red Cross, or Peace Corps. Discuss what you learn in a brief journal about writing letters.
The novel takes place in 1951-1954. Create a timeline that includes the ten years before the novel opens to ten years after it closes. Include not just important political and social dates but interesting facts from popular culture as well.
Baseball is a game dominated by math, with both individual and team averages. How does your favorite game use mathematics? Create at least five word problems using the sport and team of your choice. Trade with a friend.