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Kids Book Reviews: July 2014

Reviews of kids' books about Babe Ruth and WWI

The Bambino and Me

By Zachary Hyman; illustrated by Zachary Pullen (Tundra; $19.99)

School’s out, so books better be really good when there’s so much else to do, right? Two Zacharys, author Hyman and illustrator Pullen, tell a wishful tale of baseball in The Bambino and Me. Young George, a fanatical fan of Babe Ruth, known to one and all as the Bambino, gets his fervent wish of tickets to see the Yankees play. Even better, the Bronx Bombers are playing their archrival Boston Red Sox, the Bambino’s original team. The only problem is that George also got a birthday present of a Red Sox jersey that his mother insists he wear to the game. Evocatively illustrated and descriptive about its 1927 setting, the story could have ended up feeling like a familiar sports commercial, but it gives good value in its depiction of the heartfelt life of a devoted fan and the timeless interaction between heroes and fans. The book also comes with Seinfeld star Jason Alexander’s narration on an enclosed CD.

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales -- Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood: A World War I Tale

(Amulet Books; $12.95; middle-school age)

Recognizing that its “story is so large and complicated,” as the narrator states, this graphic novel admirably takes advantage of its format to explore World War I in surprising depth. Countries are personified as animals (a bulldog for England, a roost-er for France) and the main events are portrayed in detail, while cities and royal buildings are drawn carefully and with dignity. Colored in browns, black and oranges, the war casts a pall that pervades this wide-ranging look at diplomacy and the effects of conflict. National interests are explained through kings, generals and prime ministers who took actions that are portrayed step by step. The book does not overlook the gruesome, squalid deaths of soldiers fighting in trenches only a few feet from each other, but so many different views and personalities shine through the events and relentless tragedy that the pages come alive, close to the imagery of a film.

Frank Lipsius is a contributing writer to MetroKids.

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