SWINGING FOR THE FENCES

HANK AARON AND ME

Mark always swings for the seats even when a single will help his team. His favorite player is Hank Aaron, who is closing in on Babe Ruth’s record of 714 career home runs. He’s even lucky enough to witness Aarons’s 700th home run and to meet him afterward. Hank kindly imparts some hitting advice, and later sends Mark a book about hitting. At the beginning of the next season, Aaron sets the new record and Mark is there to see it, too. Predictably, even as his hero makes history, his own hitting skills improve, and he becomes a better player. Leonetti sacrifices narrative ease to didacticism, causing Mark’s narration to be generally stilted and lifeless, the only slight exception being the description of Aaron’s record-breaking game. Kim’s bright, double-page spreads add some zest to the text. An afterword that provides biographical information about Aaron contains a puzzling error, stating that the Negro Leagues in 1951 were the only venue for African-American ballplayers even as it trumpets Jackie Robinson’s 1947 entry into the Major Leagues. Disappointing. (bibliography) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8118-5662-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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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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HAMMERIN’ HANK

THE LIFE OF HANK GREENBERG

Hank Greenberg was not the first Jewish baseball player in the major leagues, but he was perhaps the first star ball player who was Jewish, and certainly the first elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. All through his career he faced anti-Semitism in many forms, including epithets and threats, from bigoted fans, other players and team owners. He remained observant and refused to play on Yom Kippur even though his team, the Detroit Tigers, was fighting for the pennant. He stated many times that he identified with Jackie Robinson, and he was one of the few opposing players who supported him openly from the beginning. McDonough’s dispassionate retelling of Greenberg’s biography carefully includes all the salient facts, and a few pertinent quotes. Zeldis’s naïf, detailed gouache illustrations are bright and childlike and provide a complementary focus for the text. A good introduction to a somewhat neglected baseball player. (statistics, chronology, glossary, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8027-8997-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

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