Baseball in April and Other Stories Analysis

Gary Soto

Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Baseball in April and Other Stories provides a reassuring look at growing up. Written for a middle-school audience, this collection of short stories offers a window into how circumstances in the lives of students in this age group are often perceived and how problems are resolved.

“Broken Chain” centers on first love and troublesome brothers. In preparing his bike for his first date with Sandra, Alfonso breaks the chain. Although his brother Ernie will not change his plans to help Alfonso, he does come through in time so that Alfonso can use Ernie’s bike for his date. At least Alfonso can “ride” Sandra on his handlebars. The story ends with her hands on his, and “it felt like love.”

“Baseball in April” also focuses on two brothers, Jesse and Michael, nine and ten years old, respectively, who hope to play Little League Baseball. Not making the cut, they join the Hobos, the leftovers, but only Jesse stays with the team. Despite their best efforts, the Hobos lose all their games. One day, only four boys show up for practice. Jesse fails to show up the following day and feels guilty, worried that a sole teammate will find himself on the bench, waiting.

In “Two Dreamers,” a boy and his grandfather think about speculating in real estate. Hector’s grandfather Luis is inspired by his son-in-law’s ability to buy and sell a house with enough profit to buy a brand-new car and to build a brick fence around his house. Unsupported by his wife, Luis and nine-year-old Hector inspect a house, and his grandfather persuades Hector to call the agent to learn the price. When it is far more money than anticipated, and because Hector’s grandmother almost catches them, Luis and Hector gratefully escape to mow the yard—two “hardworking guys” who still have dreams.

In “Barbie,” owning a real Barbie is Veronica’s dream. A Christmas ago, she received an imitation Barbie, and this Christmas there was no doll at all until Uncle Rudy surprises her with a real Barbie. Ecstatic, she takes her doll to play with her friend Martha, but when Martha tries to switch Barbies, Veronica leaves. On the way home, Veronica realizes that Barbie’s head is missing and spends hours searching for it. Heartbroken, she goes to bed, cradling both of her “Barbies.”

“The No-Guitar Blues” features...

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(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Blasingame, James. “Interview with Gary Soto.” Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 47 (November, 2003): 266-267.

Bruce-Novoa, Juan. “Patricide and Resurrection: Gary Soto.” In Chicano Poetry: A Response to Chaos. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982.

Candelaria, Cordelia. Chicano Poetry. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1986.

Cooley, Peter. “I Can Hear You Now.” Parnassus 8, no. 1 (1979): 297-311.

De la Fuentes, Patricia. “Mutability and Stasis: Images of Time in Gary Soto’s Black Hair.” American Review 16 (1988): 188-197.

Murphy, Patricia. “Inventing Lunacy: An Interview with Gary Soto.” Hayden’s Ferry Review 18 (Spring/Summer, 1996): 29-37.

Olivares, Julián. “The Streets of Gary Soto.” Latin American Literary Review 18 (January-June, 1990): 32-49.

Soto, Gary. “The Childhood Worries: Or, Why I Became a Writer.” Iowa Review 25 (Spring/Summer, 1995): 104-115.

Williamson, Alan. “In a Middle Style.” Poetry 135 (March, 1980): 348-354.