Title: HAROLD – THE KID WHO RUINED MY LIFE AND SAVED THE DAY
Genre: Middle Grade, contemporary
Word Count: 35,000
Harold has ruined twelve-year-old Jake’s life for the last time. So what if Harold has Asperger’s and is a genius when it comes to baseball trivia and sixth grade Algebra. Jake’s D-O-N-E.
Harold collects baseball facts like the Smithsonian collects dead things and Jake is convinced that Harold also has a talent for killing Jake’s social life. But Jake has finally found a way to put some distance between himself and Harold—middle school. His plan is to not only ditch Harold, but also the Titans, Jake’s baseball team. It seems the best the Titans can do is second place and he’ll do whatever it takes to find a spot on the number one team even if it means leaving his friends and his dad, the coach, behind. Once he’s rid of Harold and playing shortstop for a winning team, being one of the cool kids is in his glove.
Jake meets Mr. Williams who was once a Little Leaguer himself. Only no one would play his team because in the 1955 South, white teams didn’t play black teams. Mr. Williams tries to convince Jake that Harold’s knowledge of expert plays might help Jake’s team beat the undefeated Comets. And Lucy, the girl who sits beside Jake on the bus, tries to show him that winning isn’t everything and that friends like Harold are pretty special. Even though Jake thinks Lucy is annoying, he suspects she might be right and kind of awesome to sit by.
HAROLD - THE KID WHO RUINED MY LIFE AND SAVED THE DAY is a story full of baseball action, humor, and a lesson about true friendship. As a teacher and school counselor for over twenty years, I’ve worked with kids like Harold who fall on the high end of the autism continuum and who struggle to find acceptance. Currently, I’m a middle school counselor with the largest school system in the Southeast.
On the first day of sixth grade, I cracked open the front door and looked outside. The bus stop was empty. So far, so good. I’d figured Harold’s mom would drive him this year like she did when he was in kindergarten. Harold has trouble when it comes to new things. Well, that’s one of his problems.
I walked toward the stop and from behind I heard, “Hey Jake! Wait up! It’s 8:03. Bus Number 6 will be here at 8:07.”
I walked faster and called over my shoulder, “Thanks for the update, Harold. I didn’t know I was so early. Tomorrow, I’ll sleep in a whole 4 minutes.”
Harold caught up with me and said, “I woke up at 6:33, but Mom said I couldn’t come out until I saw you.”
Great. Where is that bus?
“Hey, Jake, have you ever heard of Harvey Haddix?” he asked while he rummaged through his book bag.
I knew what he was looking for. Each year before school started, Harold added one green composition notebook to his school supply list and in that notebook he kept track of the times he beat me at anything—Texas Hold’em, NCAA 12, checkers. He’d write down the date, the game, and the score. He also wrote down baseball stats.
“Yeah, Harold, I know all about Harvey.”
I didn’t have a clue, but I thought just this once Harold wouldn’t go into his never-ending monologue about one more Major League ballplayer I’d never heard of.