nonfiction nuggets…baseball history at its best!!

In July 2007 a rare baseball card
was sold at auction
for almost three million dollars.
The player on the card
was hatchet-faced, bandy-legged,
and arguably the most famous shortstop
baseball has ever known.
His name was Honus Wagner.
This is his story.

Intrigued?  I was snagged like a line drive by this tantalizing introduction to All Star! : Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jim Burke.  It’s just about a perfect picture book, I’d say, published just this year.

Honus Wagner’s life makes a fascinating story, from his boyhood work in the coal mines of western Pennsylvania to his record-breaking career in the major leagues.  In the hands of master storyteller Jane Yolen, his story is, quite simply, a treat.  In just the right amount of text, with vivid details and a clear love for the game and the man, this upbeat story sweeps us along.  Shake your heads at a hilarious story about his little league days; get the lowdown on his own special trick for altering his glove;  travel along with him from team to team, to the World Series, and into the Hall of Fame.  And…along the way…discover why his baseball card was worth 3 million dollars.

The illustrations in the book are superb.  They are oil paintings, which wonderfully communicate the warmth of family, the bear-hug-size of this guy, the turn-of-the-century American scene, and somehow, a wealth of love for baseball.  You can view more of Burke’s work at his website via this link:  http://jimburkeillustration.com/publishing.htm   In addition, the endpapers show a colorful array of Honus Wagner memorablia which the artist was giddily happy to see and touch! as he carried out his research for the book.

Even if you aren’t a diehard baseball fan, I predict that you and your kids would thoroughly enjoy this book.  Great summertime read!