"For my birthday I was hoping my parents would give me a bicycle. They only gave me a dime."
So begins David Adler's inspired tale of the challenges and magic--yes, magic--of a depression-era childhood spent in the Bronx, New York. Disappointed, but not surprised by his present, the young narrator in The Babe & I spends his birthday afternoon wandering neighborhood streets with his best friend Jacob, discussing--as always--the New York Yankees and the world's greatest baseball player, Babe Ruth. The boys may have little in the way of monetary goods, but they do live within walking distance of Yankee stadium. They get a special lift from their proximity to this golden team of graced athletes, even if they can never go inside the gate. On this day, however, the stakes are raised significantly when the narrator discovers a difficult, saddening secret about his father. In response, he decides to join Jacob and become a newspaper boy--a decision that helps his family through these tough years and leads the narrator into the best, most unbelievable encounter of his life--better than any bike or birthday or anything.
Adler's honest, vivid reflection of 1930s life is perfectly complemented by Terry Widener's evocative, earth-toned illustrations. Reminiscent of WPA murals, Widener's images help Adler transport the reader to another time and place in a symbiotic pairing that makes this tender book a true work of art. (Ages 5 and older) --Jean Lenihan
From Publishers Weekly
In the Bronx in 1932, a boy out walking with his friend discovers that his ostensibly employed father is actually selling apples on the street. Shocked, the boy numbly follows the friend, a "newsie," to work and ends up learning a great strategy for selling papers: go to Yankee Stadium and shout the latest about Babe Ruth. Adler, previously paired with Widener for Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man, creates an empathic but unsentimental portrait of life during the Depression. He conveys the father's humiliation and pride, but the boy's satisfaction in his own job and the family's general happiness keep their lot from seeming pitiful. After selling a paper to the Babe himself, the boy feels new kinship with him: "He and I were a team.... His home runs helped me sell newspapers." But baseball isn't really what drives the bookAmore importantly, "I knew Dad and I were also a team. We were both working to get our family through hard times." Widener's acrylics have a striking presence: their massy forms and jaunty, exaggerated perspectives achieve a look that's both nostalgic and edgy. Adler and Widener score bigAtheir book reads like a labor of love. Ages 5-9.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.