FICTION

You Never Heard of Casey Stengel?!

You Never Heard of Casey Stengel?! illus. by Barry Blitt. 40p. ebook available. glossary. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Mar. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780375870132.
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RedReviewStarGr 2–4—The "You Never Heard of…" picture books are back with this interesting look at a baseball personality known more for his managerial style than for his years as a player. In a relaxed, conversational tone, Winter ushers readers through the life of Casey Stengel, whose childhood dream was to be a baseball player (except for "that one time when he wanted to be a dentist"). Stengel wasn't the best player in the league, but what he lacked in talent, he made up for in goofball antics. Readers will surely snicker at his many exploits, both as a player and later as a manager. They'll also see how, despite his wackiness, his persistence got him the gig of a lifetime: managing the New York Yankees. The pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations perfectly complement the nostalgic glimpse back at the glory days of baseball. Blitt plays with proportions in a classic caricature style that exaggerates the silliness of some stand-out scenes. Interspersed throughout are text boxes with facts and stats. This engaging title will have kids sprinting toward sports biographies to learn more about the many legendary players Stengel played ball with or managed.
VERDICT A first-rate first purchase.

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