________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 35. . . .May 9, 2014


The Bambino and Me.

Zachary Hyman. Illustrated by Zachary Pullen. CD narrated by Jason Alexander.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2014.
48 pp., (includes a CD), hardcover & ebook, $19.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-627-9 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77049-629-3 (ebook).

Subject Heading:
Ruth, Babe, 1895-1948-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Jonine Bergen.

**** /4



Iíll always remember the summer of 1927. I was ten, and we lived in a tiny apartment above Bermanís Bakery in the Bronx. We didnít have much money, but we were a very close family and it was a happy time.

Televisions, computers and video games hadnít been invented yet. To pass the time, my sister practiced the piano, my brother read adventure books and I played baseball in the park with my friends.


With these words, 10-year-old George Henry Alexander tells of his love of baseball and his hero, Babe Ruth. George explains how the Great Bambino was traded to New York from the Boston Red Sox. For George, ďthe Babe was more famous than Tarzan. He was every kidís hero!Ē George and his Pops listen to all the games on their radio Ė and that was as close to a game as he expected to get. So, when his parents give him tickets to the game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees for his birthday, he is ecstatic. His euphoria is soon dashed, however, when he opens his present from his Uncle Alvin who lives in Boston. His uncleís gift is a Boston Red Sox jersey and cap Ė the team that every New Yorker loves to hate. Well, how could any true blue fan wear the colours of the rival team? Mortified, George makes the mistake of talking back to his mother by emphatically stating he could never wear the gift - and ends up eating soap for his birthday.

internal art     In the end, George goes to the game in the red uniform. What should have been the best day ever becomes a torturous event. George has to put up with catcalls, surprise, and the dagger-eyes of the Yankee fans. The excitement of the game soon takes over, and George forgets all about the embarrassing uniform. At the end of the game, the best surprise ever Ė he comes face-to-face with the Babe who has some words of wisdom for young George, ďItís hard to beat a person who never gives up.Ē

     Zachary Hyman has created a classic vignette of a time gone by with humour and a real understanding of how much a fan can love a player and a team. George is a personable character; he hasnít a lot of money, nor a lot of baseball skill, but heís an avid fan who carries his most important possession, a baseball card of Babe Ruth in his pocket all the time. Babe Ruth was a legend when he was alive, and that legend has remained strong more than sixty years after his death. Together, George the underdog and Babe the legend create a nostalgic look at a golden era.

     Zachary Pullenís oil paintings are rich in detail and colour. Pullenís depiction of emotion is particularly evocative. His paintings are filled with earth tones and subdued reds and blues. They look like grandpaís faded memory of his childhood.

     Together the two Zacharys have created a great read. What takes it to the next level, however, is the accompanying CD narrated by Jason Alexander. The music, sound effects, and light New York accent bring to life this little piece of memory. The inside of the dust jacket also doubles as a great promotional poster.

     Although I doubt there are any living today who saw the Great Bambino play, I know there are many baseball fans of all ages that will enjoy sitting down and remembering Babe Ruth. Some may even have their own story to tell of meeting a hero.

Highly Recommended.

Jonine Bergen is a librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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