For young fans who love the odd, fun details of baseball.

MIRACLE MUD

LENA BLACKBURNE AND THE SECRET MUD THAT CHANGED BASEBALL

A baseball entrepreneur finds a solution to a long-standing technical problem.

Lena Blackburne was at best a journeyman player. He played several positions for several teams, and later, he became a coach just to remain a part of the game he loved. In the first part of the 20th century, new baseballs were hard to handle since they were too shiny and slick, so many different methods were used to dull them. Shoe polish, spit, tobacco juice and dirty water were all tried, but each caused additional problems, as did employing only old, beat-up balls for the entire game. Blackburne was determined to find a better way. When he serendipitously stepped into some soft, gooey, gritty mud at a fishing hole near his home, he brought some to the ballpark, tried it out on some new baseballs and produced perfect results. At first, he provided them only for his own team, but then he sold tubs of the mud to all professional teams. Eventually it became—and still is—the only substance allowed on any baseball. Kelly provides information about an unusual aspect of the game in a sprightly, entertaining story with a great “aha” moment. Dominguez’s bright, expressive double-page spreads follow the events closely and make them live.

For young fans who love the odd, fun details of baseball. (author’s note, statistics) (Informational picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8092-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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An emotional entry point to a larger, necessary discussion on this complex and difficult subject.

A JOURNEY TOWARD HOPE

The paths of four migrant children from different Central American countries cross as they enter Mexico, and together they continue their journey to the United States.

Though their reasons for undertaking the perilous journey are different, their hopes are not: They all hope for asylum in the U.S. Ten-year-old Alessandra, from Guatemala, hopes to reunite with her mother, who left four years ago. Thirteen-year-old Laura and her 7-year-old brother, Nando, from El Salvador, are going to live with relatives in the U.S. And 14-year-old Rodrigo, from Honduras, will try to join his parents in Nebraska rather than join a local gang. Along the way they encounter danger, hunger, kindness from strangers, and, most importantly, the strength of friendship with one another. Through the four children, the book provides but the barest glimpse into the reasons, hopes, and dreams of the thousands of unaccompanied minors that arrive at the U.S.–Mexico border every year. Artist Guevara has added Central American folk art–influenced details to her illustrations, giving depth to the artwork. These embellishments appear as line drawings superimposed on the watercolor scenes. The backmatter explains the reasons for the book, helping to place it within the larger context of ongoing projects at Baylor University related to the migration crisis in Central America.

An emotional entry point to a larger, necessary discussion on this complex and difficult subject. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64442-008-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Six Foot Press

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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