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ALL STAR! by Jane Yolen


Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever

by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jim Burke

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: March 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-399-24661-6
Publisher: Philomel

Honus Wagner’s life is often summed up in the story of his very rare baseball card. Yolen goes beyond this myth and in an entertaining tall-tale tone tells the story of the young Wagner and how he made the transition from working in the mines to joining the first class in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Burke’s rich oils, in muted tones and from a variety of perspectives, are filled with details for the baseball fan to pore over. The first illustration shows the young Hans, called Honus, on his father’s knee, his signature bowed legs naked while he plays catch with his brothers. The shadows from the window form a home-plate trapezoid on the rug. Readers see Wagner grow into “Old Reliable,” the barrel-chested, long-armed speedster who became such an important part of Pittsburgh baseball. Tales of Wagner’s speed (he once carried a teammate over home plate) and determination (he batted away cushions and bottles thrown at an umpire by an angry crowd with complete accuracy) make up the bulk of this volume. An engaging artist’s note describes his research, but there is no corresponding author’s note to help young baseball enthusiasts parse legend from fact. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)