HANK AARON

BRAVE IN EVERY WAY

The veteran sportswriter, whom readers will remember from his affecting story of Jackie Robinson and PeeWee Reese (Teammates, 1990), takes the real-life tale of baseball slugger Hank Aaron and fashions it into a fable of hope, endurance, and faith. Aaron's father wished him the joy of baseball, and his mother wanted him to make a difference in the world. A childhood of grinding poverty included both schoolwork and baseball, and by the time he was 16, a local team wanted him and the color line had been broken in the majors. Aaron joined the Milwaukee Braves in 1954 as a powerful home-run hitter. When he began to close in on Babe Ruth's record of 714 homers, he also began to get nasty letters. Two of the most powerful illustrations in Lee's muscular acrylics are of Aaron standing before a wall of ugly hate mail and swinging in front of a looming image of the Babe. The art is made in the sunny, saturated colors of baseball cards, and the one of Aaron at full extension tossing the bat away as he heads for first is as pretty a piece of baseball art as can be imagined. Aaron did break Ruth's record, he did receive an outpouring of support, and his mom was there in 1974 when he hit #715. Pair this for the perfect spring story hour with Lesa Cline-Ransome's Satchel Paige (not reviewed) and Elisha Cooper's Ballpark (1998). (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-202093-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gulliver/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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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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