Rabid fans might take a swing at this, but younger or less well-informed ones will get a better sense of how the game is and...

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BASEBALL HISTORY FOR KIDS

AMERICA AT BAT FROM 1900 TO TODAY, WITH 19 ACTIVITIES

A crazy quilt of baseball high spots and memories, distilled from interviews with over 500 former major leaguers and managers.

Though stitched into chronological chapters and, despite the subtitle, covering 19th-century baseball too, Panchyk’s labor of love ends up less a coherent, unified whole than an anecdotal jumble of incidents, records, and firsts. He also seems determined to stuff as many names into his narrative as possible, so that familiar stars such as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams are nearly shouldered aside by a dizzying swarm of smaller fry. And though some offer personal reminiscences about how they broke into the major leagues, too many contribute only the vague platitudes that players still use. The illustrations are largely decades-old photos of players, tickets, and printed programs, and the history turns decidedly threadbare once it reaches the 21st century. Sidebars on nearly every spread mix miniessays on topics ranging from baseball nicknames to select no-hitters with at-times questionable hands-on activities; one suggests announcing part of a real game and then playing the recording back to an audience, which is possibly illegal, for instance.

Rabid fans might take a swing at this, but younger or less well-informed ones will get a better sense of how the game is and was played elsewhere. (index, timeline, resources) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61374-779-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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DANCING WHEELS

A stereotype about people with disabilities is shattered by this introduction to a dance company known as Dancing Wheels, a group composed of “sit down” and “stand-up” dancers. The story begins with Mary Fletcher-Verdi, born with spina bifida, a condition that causes weakness in the legs and spine. Mary always wanted to dance, and, encouraged by a family who focused on what she could do rather than what she couldn’t, she studied the art and eventually formed a mixed company, some who dance on their legs, and some who dance in wheelchairs. What she accomplished can be seen in this photo journal of the group’s dance workshop in which beginners and experienced dancers study and rehearse. Along the way, McMahon (One Belfast Boy, 1999, etc.) intersperses the history of the group, some details about the dancers, their families, and the rehearsal process that leads up to the final performance. Three children are featured, Jenny a wheelchair dancer, Devin, her stand-up partner, and Sabatino, the young son of Mary’s partner. The focus on these youngsters gives the reader a sense of their personalities and their lives with their families. Godt’s (Listen for the Bus, not reviewed, etc.) color photographs detail every aspect of the story and show the dancers at home and in rehearsal, interacting with each other, having fun, and finally performaning. They convey the dancer’s sense of joy as well as the commitment to the dance as an art form felt by the adult directors and teachers. An excellent book for helping children and adults expand their understanding about the abilities of the “disabled.” (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-88889-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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