LIPMAN PIKE

AMERICA'S FIRST HOME RUN KING

Lipman Pike played “Base” every chance he could get in his Brooklyn neighborhood. His parents were not sure it was the right thing for a Jewish boy to be doing, but they also want him to fit in with his peers. This was post–Civil War America, and the game was still in its infancy, at least in terms of organized play. The first leagues were loosely formed and were for amateurs, although several players were secretly paid. When Lip grew up, he was fast and strong and could hit for distance. He played variously for teams in Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York City and Troy, N.Y. He often faced anti-Semitism and distrust, but he won over his teammates and the “cranks” with his outstanding play. He led his league in home runs and even proved he could outrun a racehorse. Michelson adeptly employs fictional conversations interwoven with factual details as he reconstructs a long-forgotten time, managing to bring Pike’s story out of obscurity and relate it to modern young readers. Pullen’s lively, large-scale, brightly colored illustrations vividly capture the action and the time period. Text pages are augmented with sepia drawings of 19th-century newspapers, baseball scenes and equipment. An insight into baseball and America that is at once historical and timeless. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-465-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.

STICKS AND STONES

Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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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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