In the book Last Licks, Annie Ellis loves playing with her neighborhood
friends and does all she can to keep her prized lucky spaldeen from being lost
to the dangers posed by sewers, rooftops, and her building's superintendent. We
asked author Cari Best to describe her motivation to write the book.
"In the New York of my days, boys played street games like stickball,
stoopball and punchball. Girls played more ladylike games like
A-my-name-is-Alice. I played everything. And if anyone had accused me of
throwing like a girl I would have died!
"Every kid in my neighborhood had a small, pink rubber ball made from the core
of a tennis ball. We called them Spaldeens. Supers popped them and teachers
threatened to send offenders to the principal for playing with one in class.
Keeping those balls safe, out of sewers and off rooftops was next to
"Why did I write Last Licks? More than anything else I wanted to share
the skill and joy of street games with kids--to show them how we played then
and how they could play today. A lot has changed since I was a kid, but there
are still those same stoops and schoolyards, sidewalks and some streets
perfect for playing ball--and of course, the one and only Spaldeen lives on.
Who could ask for anything more?"