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Team Burger Shed

by Tavin Dillard
2024 / 188 pages

Tavin Dillard is of an indeterminate age (he looks mid-30s, but gets around on a bike, which he also uses to pull the mower for his landscaping business so is he in his teens?), and lives in a small, indeterminate town, probably in Arkansas. What we do know for sure is that he likes softball.

So when his buddy Myron Curtis invites him onto a team, Tavin is quick to say yup and hand over his twenty bucks for a team shirt. But then Myron got hisself all distracted after asking out Mary Beth, and never got around to ordering the uniforms. That means that for their first two games, everyone has to play “skins’ versus their fully-decked out opponents who get to play “shirts.”

And that also means that when Tavin tries to steal a base, he slides in “chest naked.” While I don’t have a problem with it myself, that’s a bit of descriptive folksy terminology that I could imagine some parents not liking, particularly with younger boys who you might not want going around describing themselves, every time their shirt is off, as “chest naked.” I read it to my girls, so that is not a situation that will happen here.

From then on, each chapter centers around a game and other softball-related developments, including how they got a sponsor (the Burger Shed), and how the softball field concession stand got burned down when Mary Beth got the idea to try selling s’mores. One whole chapter is about Tavin eating a “black nanner” (a blacker than black banana) because it would have been rude to decline. This is folksy, ridiculous, and charming – it’s what’d you’d expect if you turned the Duck Dynasty TV show into a book about a rec league softball team.


In addition to a few “chest naked” references, there’s a little potty humor, one instance related to a player who ate jalapeño nachos mid-game. And, with his “tender guts,” this meal had the already slow Myron Curtis now moving at quarter speed. When its his turn at bat, his team is rooting for him to make it to first… “without ruining his breeches.”


It’s a season that starts slow, but has Team Burger Shed coming from way back to make it into the playoffs. Do they win it all? You’ll have to read it to find out, but I think you and your teens will want to. This is not some great literary work, but it is a fun read aloud, written such that I was drawling with a southern accent the whole way through.

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Book Reviews, Children’s fiction

Mooses with Bazookas

by S.D. Smith 2023 / 160 pages I liked this book so much that right after I finished it, I read it again, this time to my kids for bedtime. Like C.S. Lewis before him, S.D. Smith is a popular Christian author who had some curious correspondence land in his lap. In Lewis's case, it was serious stuff – he somehow got his hands on notes from a senior devil to a junior devil, instructing him on how best to tempt and devour people. Lewis later published this correspondence as The Screwtape Letters.  Smith got sillier stuff, but how he got his hands on these letters is every bit as mysterious. Eleven "jug notes" from one Wally Warmbottom, author, expert, and solitary shipwrecked resident of the deserted island of Peachpitistan, somehow floated across the ocean to Smith, who lives in the land-locked state of Virginia. Smith doesn't understand it, but he collected and has now published the notes. As Wally Warmbottom recounts it, his small island is full of peach pits and beach pits, both of which are tripping hazards. It also has a "story cave" with tales preserved there in jugs, written by, well, who knows? The stories didn't interest Wally, but he thought Smith could take a look, so the book includes, in addition to 11 letters from Wally, four of these short stories. What Wally missed, you will most certainly enjoy, as "Binsley Bustbocket burns the buns" and "Rocket and Elsie and Rocket" are a hoot! This is wonderfully stupid throughout, but I think I might have most enjoyed one running gag that pops up in a couple of Wally's letters, and also in the title story. Barry the Moose has been having quite the day: Fort Moosefort has been overrun by flame-thrower-wielding bears, Barry's lucky stick has been burnt to ash, and a bear bullet broke off a favorite bit of his antler. So now he's on the run, and who can this silliest of all creatures turn to when he's in desperate need? Well, Science of course. But when Barry invokes his god, it's always to no effect. "The bears started firing rocket launchers at the cabin. 'Trust in Science!' I screamed..." "I swiveled and saw a pack of wolves rushing at us with fully loaded shotguns. Were they locked as well? I couldn't tell. I didn't know if you could lock one or if you would even want to in a fight, because if it's locked, can you still shoot it? ...'Help me, Science!' I cried as I dove behind a skinny tree." "The wolves had abandoned the chase – or at least the chase of me. Maybe that was bad news for J. J. whathisname or whathisinitials, but for me, no loaded or locked gun would be fired or shot at me for a while. May Science guide you, I thought towards J.D., finally remembering his intials..." It's a joke that will breeze right over the kiddos' heads, but is there for mom and dad to appreciate. So, a silly goofy story, with some political subtext – what more could you want? Maybe the only critique I would have is that, other than this being both hilarious and clean, I wouldn't have had reason to suspect the author was Christian. That said, it might be hard to include God – Who appreciates silly, but is not at all silly – in such a deliberately insubstantial book. I'll rate this as a great one for everyone eight and up, so long as they can appreciate Dad-joke humor. For a good taste of the silly, check out the book trailer below. And if you like this, S.D. Smith has written a less silly but more adventurous series on "rabbits with swords." Check out our review of the first book: The Green Ember. ...