Lively, fun-filled and altogether delightful.

THE BAMBINO AND ME

The historic rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox is the catalyst for a young fan’s extraordinary adventures in Yankee Stadium.

George Alexander loves the Yankees and his hero Babe Ruth, but he is torn between joy and despair when he is forced to wear the Red Sox jersey and cap his uncle sent him to a Yankees–Red Sox game. The outfit causes quite a stir in his neighborhood and at the game, where he endures jeers and is pelted with peanuts, making George feel like a traitor. When the Great Bambino comes to the plate, he seems to notice that flash of red in the bleachers, points and hits a huge homer. After the game, George is escorted to meet the Babe, who treats him with great kindness and encouragement. Though related as a “memoir” by George as an old man, the tale is entirely fictional, but it manages to capture the essence of that extraordinary time and the larger-than-life persona that was Babe Ruth. Hyman invests George’s voice with boyish enthusiasm, and the conversational language is characterized by contemporary syntax. Pullen’s oddly proportioned, compelling illustrations, rendered in oil paint and walnut oil, are in perfect tandem with the nostalgic spirit of the text and wonderfully depict every aspect of the characters’ emotions. Actor Jason Alexander’s CD recording of the story is included.

Lively, fun-filled and altogether delightful. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-770-49627-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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A rallying cry for anyone looking for a strong example of perseverance.

MAYA AND THE BEAST

Brazilian surfer Gabeira offers a fictionalized version of her childhood with this story of an adventurous young girl who overcomes sexism and self-doubt to become a great athlete.

The inhabitants of the fishing village of Nazaré, Portugal, are in awe of a massive wave known as the Beast. A young villager named Maya has asthma and brings medicine with her wherever she goes; though shy, Maya finds fulfillment when moving her body during dancing, gymnastics, and swimming. Having grown up hearing about the Beast, she goes to see it for herself and is in awe of the massive wave, though she also notices boys surfing on it. Maya decides to try surfing, which her father encourages. The boys at the beach tell her surfing is no sport for girls, and she nearly believes them until a voice in a seashell tells her not to give up. Both text and illustrations offer a stirring account of Maya’s journey to surfing mastery. The Beast begins as a spectacle from afar, filling the page with its sheer scope. Maya is often framed within or beneath its crest, including a wonderful scene of her would-be hecklers watching dumbfounded as she joyously surfs ahead of them. Maya and her family are brown-skinned; for the most part, other residents of Nazaré range in skin color from tan to brown. In an author’s note, Gabeira describes growing up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and, in 2007, setting a Guinness record for the largest wave ever surfed at Praia de Norte in Nazaré. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A rallying cry for anyone looking for a strong example of perseverance. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4197-6000-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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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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