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Shoeless Joe and Black Betsy
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About the Author

Phil Bildner is a former New York City public school teacher who lives in Newburgh, New York. He spends much of his year visiting schools and libraries around the country and world. He is the author of over twenty books including the middle grade novel A Whole New Ballgame and picture books Marvelous Cornelius, The Soccer Fence, The Hallelujah Flight, and Twenty-One Elephants. Along with Loren Long, he is the coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Sluggers series. Visit him online at PhilBildner.com. C. F. Payne has illustrated more than a dozen picture books, including the New York Times bestselling Mousetronaut by astronaut Mark Kelly, the Texas Bluebonnet winner Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy, written by Phil Bildner, and the New York Times bestsellers The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Micawber, both by John Lithgow. He teaches at the Columbus College of Design, where he is the chair of the Illustration Department. Payne lives with his wife and children in Cincinnati, Ohio. Visit him online at CFPayne.com.

Reviews

Slugger Joe Jackson was more than careful with his favorite bat. The book concludes with a short biography about the athlete and a page of his major league statistics. Baseball statistics can be expanded into a math lesson. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

One of baseball's greats receives star treatment in this compelling book. Shortly before "Shoeless Joe" Jackson (so named for having played a game in his stocking feet) joins the minors, he falls into a slump, and out of desperation ends up in the workshop of "the finest bat smith in all of South Carolina." Joe names the bat Ol' Charlie Ferguson makes for him Betsy ("Pitchers are going to honor and respect this bat the way they respect the flag Betsy Ross created," the hero states), but the slump continues. So does the partnership between the two men as Ol' Charlie refines the bat's design it's remade from the "north side of a hickory tree" and rubbed down with tobacco juice so it will be "dark and scary-looking" and Joe learns how to massage it with sweet oil and keep it wrapped in cotton ("Cotton will make Black Betsy feel right at home in Cleveland," Ol' Charlie tells him). Finally Betsy takes him to the major leagues and his finest season ever. Rookie Bildner hits a home run here, zeroing in on the bat as just the right lens through which to view his picture book biography. He strews the conversational prose with appealing colloquialisms in a catchy refrain ("sure as the sky is blue and the grass is green"). Payne's (The Remarkable Farkle McBride) portraits take on a tall-tale quality suffused with nostalgia; his strong-featured characters offer a riveting blend of humor and gravity. An afterword fills in the details of Jackson's life and career, including the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Ages 5-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"One of baseball's greats receives star treatment in this compelling book."
-- Publishers Weekly
"Will capture the attention of young baseball fans."
-- School Library Journal

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