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WHEN WILLARD MET BABE RUTH by Donald Hall

WHEN WILLARD MET BABE RUTH

By Donald Hall (Author) , Barry Moser (Illustrator)

Age Range: 7 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-15-200273-1
Publisher: Harcourt

 The national pastime gets a bit of much-needed luster from the poet's touch. Young Willard Babson makes the acquaintance of Babe Ruth one day when he and his father pull the young, just-married pitcher's auto out of a New Hampshire ditch. From there, Hall (Lucy's Summer, 1995, etc.) builds a beautiful story about the twining of two lives over 20 years: one a farm boy, rapt in the pleasures of baseball and mesmerized by Ruth's style; the other, ``the best who ever played the game of baseball.'' Hanging over every event is the penumbral melancholy of those years, from the end of the First World War through the middle of the Great Depression--when baseball helped anchor a storm-tossed population. That feeling is enhanced by Moser's nostalgic watercolors, each an achingly sentimental tableau. Hall salts the tale with fine historical tidbits--from the mention of ``Fibber McGee and Molly'' to Al Smith's run for office- -as he moves the story to its emotional climax when Willard's daughter, a baseball fan named Ruth, meets her hero. A heartfelt piece of Americana from two old pros. (Fiction. 7+)