THE BABE AND I

Adler (also with Widener, Lou Gehrig, 1997, etc.) sets his fictional story during the week of July 14, 1932, in the Bronx, when the news items that figure in this tale happened. A boy gets a dime for his birthday, instead of the bicycle he longs for, because it is the Great Depression, and everyone who lives in his neighborhood is poor. While helping his friend Jacob sell newspapers, he discovers that his own father, who leaves the house with a briefcase each day, is selling apples on Webster Avenue along with the other unemployed folk. Jacob takes the narrator to Yankee Stadium with the papers, and people don’t want to hear about the Coney Island fire or the boy who stole so he could get something to eat in jail. They want to hear about Babe Ruth and his 25th homer. As days pass, the narrator keeps selling papers, until the astonishing day when Ruth himself buys a paper from the boy with a five-dollar bill and tells him to keep the change. The acrylic paintings bask in the glow of a storied time, where even row houses and the elevated train have a warm, solid presence. The stadium and Webster Avenue are monuments of memory rather than reality in a style that echoes Thomas Hart Benton’s strong color and exaggerated figures. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-201378-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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FIDDLIN' SAM

In a family memoir of the most affecting kind, readers are invited to a long-ago time in the Ozark Mountains and the story of a musician who owned “the clothes on his back and a fine old lionhead fiddle.” Fiddlin’ Sam is the inheritor of the peripatetic, minstrel’s life of his father, who taught Sam his art, saying, “This ain’t a gift, Son. It’s a loan. You gotta pass the music along.” Sam accepts the food that appreciative people give him, but politely refuses their offer of a bed. When a rattler bites him, Sam fears he has failed his calling; the music will die with him. In the feverish time that follows, someone takes care of him, a young man whom Sam hopes will take up the gift and carry it along—but the boy has other plans. In the years that follow, Sam meets another young man on the road who reminds him of the first one, and, indeed, is his son. Their path together lasts long enough for Sam to pass along his gift and its joys and burdens before he dies. An endpiece dedication allows readers to glimpse aspects of the story that are based in truth. A rhythmic refrain underscores the emotions of the story, and even acts as the vehicle of the ascension of Sam’s soul at death. Gerig’s watercolors deliver the scenic beauty of the region and carry their own version of a familial tribute. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1999

ISBN: 0-87358-742-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rising Moon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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SNOW BEAR

In this sweetly sentimental story set in the frozen twilight of an Arctic spring, George (Morning, Noon, and Night, p. 699, etc.) tells of an Inuit girl who goes out to hunt. Bessie Nivyek sets out with her big brother, Vincent, to hunt for food; in a twist out of McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal, Bessie bumps into a young bear, and they frolic: climbing, sliding, somersaulting, and cuddling. Vincent spies the tracks of his little sister and follows, wary of the mother bear; the mother bear is just as wary of Vincent. Out of the water rears danger to both the child and cub—a huge male polar bear. The mother bear warns her cub; it runs away, as does Bessie. Brother and sister head back home, “to eat, go to school, and learn the wisdom of the Arctic like Eskimo children do.” The brief text is lyrical and the illustrations are striking, with an impressively varied palette of white, in blue, green, yellow, and gold. Children who note that Vincent goes home empty-handed will wonder why he didn’t hunt any of the polar bears that were within range. While children will enjoy this romantic view of Bessie and the bear, those seeking a more realistic representation of life in this harsh environment will be unsatisfied. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7868-0456-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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