BABE RUTH AND THE BASEBALL CURSE

Two nonfiction baseball stories enclosed in one cover should be a winner for newly established readers who are baseball fanatics—unfortunately, it’s not. The first is a thin sketch of the life of The Babe, the Bambino, George Herman Ruth, bad boy turned national hero, a figure larger than life. Too thin, alas: The Babe was so outsized, so personable, so human, and not enough of that comes through in this. The second story is the sad tale of the fall of the Boston Red Sox after The Babe was sold to the hated New York Yankees. Following that fateful event, Boston was in decline for decades as New York was in ascendancy. It’s an exciting story, but Kelly’s writing is flat, dependent on exclamation points and forms of “to get” instead of strong, chewy verbs—lazy and inexcusable writing in a book meant for developing readers. Furthermore, even as the book appears on shelves it is outdated, making no mention of Barry Bonds or of the Red Sox’s ignominious defeat in 2008. Too bad. (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-85603-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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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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SAINT VALENTINE

The most interesting feature of this retelling of a story about a saint martyred in A.D. 270 is the art, a meticulous re- creation of the medium of its subject's period. Using thousands of tiny, rectangular pieces resembling tiles, Sabuda replicates the effect of Roman mosaics. His simple designs and harmonious, gently muted colors are pleasing, and he achieves surprising subtleties of expression, considering the intractability of the medium. Actually, the illustrations work even better from a slight distance (as with a group), so that the demarcations between the tiny pieces are less predominant. The technique, which tends to congeal the action, makes relatively undramatic illustrations; still, it's a fascinating experiment that brings the ancient world to life by paying tribute to its art rather than by picturing it in a modern style. The straightforward narrative centers on Valentine as a physician whose ointment restores the sight of a jailer's blind daughter, long the saint's friend. It's implied that the long-awaited cure takes place at the moment of his offstage death; the story ends with the joy of the child's renewed vision. An unusual and attractive rendition. Historical note. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-689-31762-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1992

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