THE CURSE OF THE BAMBINO

Framing his plaint as a Dad answering his daughter’s question one opening day at Fenway Park, a sportswriter for the Boston Globe recaps Babe Ruth’s early career as a Red Sox star and his infamous sale to the Yankees. Then he goes on to tally the succession of heartbreaking, last-minute bobbles and defeats that denied the Sox a World Series win for the next eight and a half decades. Recalling the art for his edition of Ernest L. Thayer’s Casey at the Bat (2003), Payne presents a series of on-field scenes featuring many recognizable players in old-style uniforms. Over them looms The Babe, sometimes taller than Fenway’s Green Monster, invisibly holding Johnny Pesky back from throwing home in the ’46 Series, blowing Bucky Dent’s homer over the wall in that ’78 playoff game, and giving Mookie Wilson’s grounder a nudge to send it trickling between Bill Buckner’s legs. Curse or just coincidence? Shaughnessy declines to come down on one side or the other, and the Red Sox’s win in 2004, commemorated by a spread that drops the perfunctory plotline and bears other signs of hasty construction, makes it all moot anyway. Or so Sox fans would like to think. (afterword, brief bibliography) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-689-87235-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd.

THE MISSING BASEBALL

From the Zach and Zoe Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Lupica kicks off a new series starring a pair of 8-year-old twins who solve sports-themed mysteries.

Even the pleasures of competing in various events during his school’s Spirit Week dim a smidge for Zach Walker when the prized autographed baseball he brings to his third-grade class for show and tell vanishes. Happily, his bookish but equally sports-loving sister, Zoe, is on the case, and by the time of the climactic baseball game at week’s end, she has pieced together clues and deductions that lead to the lost treasure—which had not been stolen but batted through an open window by the teacher’s cat and stashed in a storage shed by the custodian. In the co-published sequel, The Half-Court Hero, the equally innocuous conundrum hangs on the identity of the mysterious “guardian angel” who is fixing up a run-down playground basketball court. Along with plenty of suspenseful sports action, the author highlights in both tales the values of fair play, teamwork, and doing the “right thing.” The Walker family presents white, but in both the narrative and Danger’s appropriately bland (if inappropriately static) illustrations, the supporting cast shows some racial and ethnic diversity.

Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28936-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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