THE HERO TWO DOORS DOWN

BASED ON THE TRUE STORY OF FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN A BOY AND A BASEBALL LEGEND

The book doesn’t dwell long enough on the smallest moments, but each of them feels like meeting the baseball legend—and...

Brooklyn Dodgers fan Steve’s life is changed when Jackie Robinson and his family move into his Jewish neighborhood in 1948.

This is a true story—parts of it, anyway. The author is Robinson’s daughter, and the main character was her family’s neighbor in real life. Stephen Satlow was a baseball fan, and he lived two doors down from his hero. The author has changed some details (one character is a composite), but readers may find themselves hoping every word is accurate. The Jackie Robinson in the book seems just as kind and thoughtful as the real Jackie sounded in interviews and news stories. When 8-year-old narrator Steve is having a rough time at school, Jackie walks over to the school softball game and teaches the whole team about stealing bases. There isn’t much conflict here. The story is just as down-to-earth and remarkable as the actual baseball star, and it would feel mean-spirited to wish any more drama on these two genuinely endearing people. Absent drama to drive the plot, the book’s main fault is that it doesn’t make enough of the magical everyday moments. A scene of Jackie and Steve playing stoopball could have lasted pages longer. Jackie’s son, Jackie Junior, is hardly a character here, another missed opportunity.

The book doesn’t dwell long enough on the smallest moments, but each of them feels like meeting the baseball legend—and maybe, sometimes, even better than the real thing. (historical note, photos) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-80451-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

STEALING HOME

An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel.

Sandy and his family, Japanese Canadians, experience hatred and incarceration during World War II.

Sandy Saito loves baseball, and the Vancouver Asahi ballplayers are his heroes. But when they lose in the 1941 semifinals, Sandy’s dad calls it a bad omen. Sure enough, in December 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor in the U.S. The Canadian government begins to ban Japanese people from certain areas, moving them to “dormitories” and setting a curfew. Sandy wants to spend time with his father, but as a doctor, his dad is busy, often sneaking out past curfew to work. One night Papa is taken to “where he [is] needed most,” and the family is forced into an internment camp. Life at the camp isn’t easy, and even with some of the Asahi players playing ball there, it just isn’t the same. Trying to understand and find joy again, Sandy struggles with his new reality and relationship with his father. Based on the true experiences of Japanese Canadians and the Vancouver Asahi team, this graphic novel is a glimpse of how their lives were affected by WWII. The end is a bit abrupt, but it’s still an inspiring and sweet look at how baseball helped them through hardship. The illustrations are all in a sepia tone, giving it an antique look and conveying the emotions and struggles. None of the illustrations of their experiences are overly graphic, making it a good introduction to this upsetting topic for middle-grade readers.

An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel. (afterword, further resources) (Graphic historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0334-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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