The Funniest Man in Baseball: The True Story of Max Patkin

illus. by Jennifer Bower. 40p. bibliog. photos. HMH. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544813779.
K-Gr 3—Vernick (The Kid From Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton) has hit another home run with this enjoyable account of baseball clown Max Patkin. As a young boy, Patkin longed to be a major league player. An injury ended his playing career but he pitched for a navy team during World War II. After giving up a home run to Joe DiMaggio, Patkin followed DiMaggio around the bases mimicking him and making faces. A career was born, and Patkin spent the next 50 years entertaining crowds at minor league games. Vernick's delightful prose combines with Bower's cartoon illustrations to ensure an engaging read—the opening sentence alone will hook kids ("Did you hear the one about the pitcher who walked into a ballpark?"). Photographs and references are included in the back.
VERDICT A welcome addition to public and school libraries alike.

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