I don’t care much for baseball but I’m a sucker for a good story. The odd thing is, baseball seems to be quite a breeding ground for tantalizing tales. I’ve been bamboozled into reading far more than my share of baseball novels because they developed into darn good stories.
When Jackie Met Hank is just such an example. I have to admit that, thanks to the current film, 42, I did have a passing interest when I saw a book about Jackie Robinson. And, it wasn’t too painful to read a picture book about baseball players. I’m glad I dropped my guard. Reading When Jackie Met Hank was time well spent.
Cathy Goldberg Fishman has told her story from a very interesting perspective by stating in the opening sentence that “Jack Roosevelt Robinson and Henry Benjamin Greenberg were born eight years and 1,000 miles apart.” She then proceeds to tell how at various stages of growing up they came –unbeknownst to the other—a little closer and a little closer.
As boys, both men had an aptitude for sports but their lives were more intertwined that they realized. Jackie Robinson was the first Negro player in the major leagues, a role that won him as much reproach as fame. There’s no doubt that Jackie’s rookie year was hard, very hard. What is however, not as well remembered today, is the story of Hank Greenberg, one of the first Jewish professional baseball stars. His road to becoming “Hammerin’ Hank” was almost as rocky as Robinson’s. They knew each other’s pain. Both men were class acts on the field and off. Ms. Fishman tells how Jackie Robinson said as much about Hank Greenberg when he told a New York Times reporter, “Class tells. It sticks out all over Mr. Greenberg.” Jackie Robinson and Hank Green berg were two men, different yet alike in many ways, brought together by sports but held together in friendship and respect by an even greater game, the game of life, a game at which both of them excelled. Posted by: Eileen
This month, Sarah shares Dance by Lorrie Mack, a great introduction to whatever kind of dance you might be interested in!
Peace, by artist Wendy Anderson Halperin is a visual and poetic meditation on the subject of peace. The book is dedicated to our senses, and that dedication sets the tone for the book – peace is real, and it can be sensed with our whole bodies and expressed with our words, actions, and thoughts. There is a very short text which can be read aloud, along with quotes from famous peacemakers spread throughout, and panels of illustrations depicting scenes of peace.
Halperin chooses quotes from people like Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and Anne Frank. I like that many of the quotes focused on the small ways we can work toward peace: “When people talk, listen completely” (Ernest Hemingway); and “Friendship is the only cure for hatred, the only guarantee of peace” (Buddha). The many illustrations, too, while wide in scope (they depict children and nature around the world), also depict small scenes of peace. Some of the images contrast to illustrate the concept. For example, one scene shows a grandmother washing dishes while her granddaughter lounges on the couch. A few pages later, we see the same grandmother washing the dishes with her granddaughter at her side helping her. Another scene depicts an elderly man boarding a bus as everyone continues to read their paper. Later on in the book, we see that a child has risen from his seat and offered it to the man. We also see children reading in tree houses, planting vegetables, sharing meals with their families, and quietly observing a heron.
The book is one to read and look at over and over again. It may spark discussions about kindness, friendship, stewardship of the earth, and about standing against all those things that destroy peace – like anger, apathy, ignorance, and jealousy. I can see this making a soothing bedtime book for all ages, and while it would be difficult to read the book aloud to a classroom (too many small details), it would make a good book for small groups to read and discuss in the classroom.
Posted by: Parry
National Geographic and J. Patrick Lewis work well together. In 2007 they released The Brother’s War: Civil War Voices in Verse. It was a solemn, evocative and gut churning collection that stays in my mind even today. But, could we expect less of the U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate? The answer, of course is no and to prove my point, NatGeo—as we hipsters refer to them—and Lewis have done it again.
The National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry is a treat. It’s more than a treat, it’s a triumph. The combination of stunning photos–as only Nat Geo can seems to be able to produce—and the writings of some of America’s best poets lights up the imagination and thrills the soul. It doesn’t hurt that a “parent /child” photo of a giraffes, one of my favorite animals, graces the cover. The book entices the reader with a subtitle that states, “200 poems with photographs that squeak, soar and ROAR!”
Mr. Lewis has chosen a wide variety authors who represent an even wider variety of styles—19th century, 20th century or 21st century; lighthearted, silly, or serious; rhyming verse, haiku or concrete poems. It’s all there, all carefully chosen by Mr. Lewis and all perfectly matched to the photography.
Don’t miss a chance to share these little gems with a favorite child or better yet, just curl up in a comfy spot and let yourself go wild among the animals.
Posted by: Eileen
Kelly shares a sweet–and true!–animal tale: Douwlina: A Rhino’s Story, by Grace Borgeson.
This month, Eileen shares the book Body Actions, by Shelley Rotner, a great choice for those days when it’s just beginning to be warm enough to get outside and move our bodies!
This month, Kelly shares a new favorite: Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems by Kristine O’Connell George.
I’ve been to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and was awed as I looked out at the faces of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt that are carved into the side of a mountain. It’s hard to imagine how such an extraordinary feat could have been accomplished – especially since it was begun in 1927, and not in today’s world with the aid of modern tools and technology.
The renowned sculptor Gutzon Borglum was commissioned to begin the project that has become a destination for many tourists. This book details how Gutzon designed and organized the carving, but how it was his son, Lincoln, who saw the project through to the end. Interesting facts include how a small village was constructed for the workers at the base of the mountain and how Jefferson’s head was originally carved on the other side of where it is now.
This book is interesting to read and would be a great introduction to Mount Rushmore for anyone planning a trip to this national monument.
Posted by: Wendy
February is a gloomy time, full of dark skies and sleety snow and grumbles. What better way to cheer up than by making some exciting cupcakes? Just because Valentine’s Day is over doesn’t mean that we can’t make treats for ourselves!
Dana Meachen Rau’s new book, What’s Up Cupcake, offers myriad incredibly creative cupcake decorating ideas (who on earth would have thought of making an armadillo out of peanut-butter-filled sandwich cookies?) that will inspire any child–to either follow the recipe or make up their own designs! Rau, a prolific author of children’s nonfiction, has three other, equally creative and inspiring, books in her Dessert Designers series: Smart Cookie, Piece of Cake, and Eye Candy. Get out your mixing bowls and bake away those winter blues!
Posted by: Sarah
TB—tuberculosis– runs in my family. My father had it during WWII. I had it in the 1970s and my oldest son had it in the 1990s.
My father had told me stories of what sounded medieval torture—that masqueraded as medical treatment–when he was a patient in a military sanitorium during the war. He routinely had his lung collapsed by well meaning doctors who would wait awhile for it to re-inflated and then do it again. It must have been ghastly but, that was thought to be the most effective way to affect a cure in those days. Almost thirty years later when I was diagnosed, I had to take three to five pills a day for several years. But luckily, there was no torture. By the time my son was told that he too, had TB, the treatment was down to one pill a day.
According to Jim Murphy, Siebert award winning author of Invincible Microbe, our treatments pretty much followed those generally prescribed for our times. It is a blessing that our story did not start 30 years earlier when most people diagnosed with tuberculosis, or consumption as it was called, did not survive.
It may have been interesting but can’t have been pleasant to write about a disease that has been a scourge on humanity. However, as usual, Murphy has done an admirable job taking information that might be little known to the general public and making it so readable, so compelling, that it becomes a topic that you feel you must know about. He doesn’t sugar coat TB with a “that’s all in the past” message. Murphy makes it clear that tuberculosis may have appeared long ago but it’s also very much in the present and in a more robust, difficult to treat version, to boot.
At the same time, he’s no pessimist. He includes the details, quotes the experts and manages to make facts and figures read like a masterful suspense novel.
TB may be invincible, but Jim Murphy isn’t far behind.
Posted by: Eileen