Total Pageviews

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Bambino and Me, written by Zachary Hyman and illustrated by Zachary Pullen. Tundra Books, 2014. $19.99 ages 8 and up

"As Pops and I stood up to leave at the end of the game, some big palookas grabbed us and told us to come with them. Yikes! I knew that wearing a Red Sox uniform would get me into trouble. After waiting in a dimly lit hallway in the depths of the stadium for what seemed like an eternity, I finally heard footsteps in the distance."

George Henry Alexander is 10 and he loves baseball. Babe Ruth is his hero. It's 1927 and days are spent playing ball with his friends, and wanting to be better at the game. Despite his lack of skill, George will not give up playing.

In this story that is every baseball fan's dream come true, Zachary Hyman conjures a tale of what might have happened for some lucky young baseball fan. He uses some of the Babe's own words in the telling, and it presents as a memoir from that very special time in baseball history when the Bambino inspired thousands of young boys to go after their dreams with all they had in them.

George and his Pops listen to every Yankee game on the radio. He knows that is as close as he is likely to get to his favorite team. Imagine his surprise when his parents get him two tickets to see the Yankees play against their biggest rivals...the Boston Red Sox. With Babe now on their team, George is beyond excited to see his hero play. A second birthday gift - this one from his Uncle Alvin in Boston - causes some angst. He opens the package to find a Red Sox jersey and cap! No way is he going to wear those to a Yankees game...

His mother has another opinion and she insists that he wear the gift his uncle worked so hard to get for  him. Embarrassed and disgruntled, George and his Pops head to the game, amidst jeers and insults from friends, neighbors and the fans at the game. The chance to see his hero outweighs the taunting that he must endure. When Babe steps up to bat and George cheers loudly, his red hat stands out in the sea of blue. Does the Babe see him there in the crowd? It seems so...he points in his direction and slams a home run to the great delight of the huge crowd.

The Yanks win! George is elated. That is not add to the magic of the day, George meets his hero who shares some wise words and a gift or two. Imagine!

It's a wonderful tale, made richer with artwork rendered in oil paint and walnut oil on board. The rich illustrations are expressive and detailed, evoking memories of a time past. The earthy tones, the red and blue hues, the use of light and shadow to establish mood, allow today's readers a brief historical glimpse at baseball in America in the 1920s.

The CD narrated by Jason Alexander is perfect. He is adept at using his best acting chops to bring this story to life. Accompanying music and sound effects complement his storytelling, and his spot-on voices add depth and much enjoyment. You will want to listen to it more than once.

No comments:

Post a Comment