BULLSBill KirklandMcFarland...

EDDIE NEVILLE OF THE DURHAM

September 19, 1993|By JAMES H. BREADY KINDA BLUE Ann Grifalconi Little, Brown 30 pages. $15.95. Ages 4-8 | JAMES H. BREADY KINDA BLUE Ann Grifalconi Little, Brown 30 pages. $15.95. Ages 4-8,LOS ANGELES TIMES

EDDIE NEVILLE OF THE DURHAM BULLS

Bill Kirkland

McFarland & Co.

191 pages. $24.95 (paperback)

Eddie Neville pitched and pitched, but never made it to the majors. He was a Baltimore high school star at Mount St. Joseph, but his 10-year career went by mostly in towns in North Carolina and, winters, the Canal Zone. Now that he is the subject of an unusually detailed and understanding baseball biography -- alas that Eddie Neville (1922-1989) is not around to enjoy it.

As a boy in Durham, N.C., Bill Kirkland hero-worshiped this smal(5 feet 10 inches), handsome, hard-working left-hander from West Mulberry Street in Baltimore. When he wrote to Neville in spring training, the Durham Bulls' best pitcher not only answered but included the correspondence in his scrapbook. Late in life, Neville got together with Mr. Kirkland -- by then the local newspaper magnate. A reflex stirred; Mr. Kirkland undertook a journey back across the years.

Full of accurate baseball minutiae, with photos, bibliography and index, "Eddie Neville of the Durham Bulls" leaves a single, piercing regret. For so many other players, too, there should be

such a book.

@ Down in Georgia, on the farm where she lives, 7-year-old Sissy is feeling "kinda blue" -- and for good reason. Her daddy had died back "when she was a baby girl." Sissy was feeling grumpy and lonely, and "awfully sorry" for herself.

Ann Grifalconi has written and illustrated more than 50 books, including the Caldecott Honor book "The Village of Round and Square Houses" and she convincingly depicts children's feelings and how they deal with the problems in their world.

The loss of a parent is a heavy weight, but children know of such happenings, sometimes in their own lives or in the lives of friends. Sissy, as down as she can possibly be, is helped by her Uncle Dan, who, with simple words and loving gestures, lets her know that he cares.

Sissy and her uncle Dan talk about everyday things as they walk through the fields of corn, looking closely at the cornstalks and corncobs, which need someone to pay attention to them to make them grow strong -- which is "jus' like us" when we have the need to feel a little better.

This is a perfect story to read to children when they have sorrows -- or before they do -- in order to help them remember the people who love them when they are feeling "kinda blue."

JUDITH B. ROSENFELD RAISE THE RED LANTERN

Su Tong

Morrow.

268 pages. $20

"Raise the Red Lantern," the first of the three novellas by Su Tong collected here, was made into an acclaimed film, named best foreign film in 1992 by the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

It tells of a young woman who is forced to become a concubine after her father commits suicide. When she sees how another kept woman is punished for infidelity she loses her mind; insanity is a refuge for a woman surrounded by cruel men and vengeful women.

In "Nineteen Thirty-four Escapes," a peasant family falls apart, done in by disease, poverty, and their own shortcomings.

"Opium Family" is the story of the Liu family, landowners who grow opium and accept the violence of that life with numbing finality. Ms. Tong experiments with style and offers shocking images of people caught by the traditions of their society -- from women who might have dreamed of an independent life had others not seen them as property, to a son destroyed by his family's greed.

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