A charming, endearing introduction to a baseball icon.

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YOU NEVER HEARD OF CASEY STENGEL?!

Casey Stengel was a baseball phenomenon and a genuine eccentric.

He was a good—though not great—player, known for his goofy antics, such as hiding a sparrow in his cap and, when fans booed him, tipping his cap to release the bird. At the end of his playing career, he became a manager for a series of terrible minor and major league teams. Then came the New York Yankees, with their full roster of great players. He managed them to 10 pennants and seven World Series championships. All those years prior, he had been studying the game carefully and remembering everything. His innovative style of platooning lefties and righties, switching around his lineup, placing players at multiple positions, and keeping everyone guessing won games and became the template for the modern game. He also had a way of speaking that confounded all listeners, using “Stengelese” to great advantage. Winter speaks directly to readers in a colloquial, folksy voice, presenting the salient facts but focusing on Stengel’s larger-than-life persona. Additional bits of information appear in sidebars designed like tickets. Blitt’s softly colored pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations, in a variety of perspectives, perfectly convey Stengel’s baseball world, and the portraits of Stengel are amazingly accurate and lifelike.

A charming, endearing introduction to a baseball icon. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-375-87013-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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