"Somewhere Nicky realized from the truth that telling lies was much more fun. They never ended. Nicky made them up and changed the rules as he went along. It was so much easier than dealing with the truth.
On the outside, twelve-year-old Nicky Palmieri is just a little different from the average kid who loves baseball. Several surgeries on his cleft palate have left noticeable bumps and scars on his lip. He desperately wants to look like the other kids, but the doctors' empty words and promises set bad examples about lying.
On the inside, Nicky dreams of reaching the major leagues. His baseball glove, an expensive professional model, is an extension of his left hand. Nicky knows where his glove is at all times. Then one day he secretly places his prized possession in an unusual place. When his family and closest friends ask him about the glove's whereabouts, Nicky follows with a long string of lies. Most are harmless fibs-but one falsehood leads to a catastrophe that changes Nicky's life.
Join Nicky and the Kelsey Avenue Crew for a series of wild events that teach him about the power of the truth.
""Elementary-school teacher and former sports reporter Petrucci weaves a poignant tale of a young boy with a cleft palate, who finds respite from the harsh realities of small-town life by playing baseball.
Twelve-year-old Nicky Palmieri is the leader of the Kelsey Avenue Crew, a neighborhood sandlot baseball team. Since he was born with a cleft palate and underbite which caused hearing and speech difficulties, however, he endures ridicule from the other students at Stiles Elementary School. Nicky undergoes several operations, all unsuccessful, and the school bullies refer to him as the “Lip” or “Elephant Man.” He battles his tormentors in the lunch line and is punished by a seemingly heartless principal for telling the truth about the brawl. Upon arriving home, Nicky is reprimanded once again, by his parents, for fighting in school. He determines that telling the truth consistently gets him into trouble, and thus invents lies to protect himself. Nicky finds solace in an afterschool job at the local deli. His boss Big John is the town’s legendary tough guy—a former athletic star and war veteran, he’s the keeper of neighborhood peace. Big John and his protégé Jerry Gambardella Jr. also coach the Kelsey Avenue Crew, and when Jerry unexpectedly dies of a heart attack, Nicky and his friends are crushed. The protagonist secretly places his prized baseball glove in the coffin with Jerry, then must contrive a string of lies when asked for its whereabouts. Big John unearths Nicky’s glove and tries to teach him that lying doesn’t pay. In spite of tragic events, Nicky begins to discover the value of good friends and a loving family, and finds confidence in his athletic abilities. Short, upbeat chapters maintain a steady pace, and the theme of the novel—truth and learning—is clearly, though often didactically, presented. The characters in Heart of the Hide are fleshed out and believable, as is the dialogue, which moves at a steady pace.
A lengthy yet endearing treat for young sports fans.""
- Kirkus Review"
About Lou Petrucci
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Published October 22, 2008
Young Adult, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books.