Maria Testa, Author, Scott Hunt, Illustrator , illus. by Scott Hunt. Candlewick $13.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-7636-1537-6

Testa's (Some Kind of Pride) 24 brief vignettes, in verse, introduce young Joseph Paul, born in 1936. His melodic narrative tightly braids together strands integral to his life: family, baseball and the ways in which the exploding world affects him and those close to him. His maternal grandfather Papa-Angelo, who helps raise Joseph Paul while his father is serving time, gives the boy his name (after Joe DiMaggio), his passion for baseball and the handmade chair on which Joseph sits alongside the kind man, listening to broadcasts of DiMaggio's triumphs on the field. When the boy announces, "I want to be Joe DiMaggio when I grow up," wise Papa-Angelo answers, "That's wonderful... but someone else already is." Yet he hardly discourages Joseph's dreams. In the concluding image, the two stand before the gates of the university Joseph will soon enter, at the age of 16, to study medicine. Details of DiMaggio's career ("It seems like/ the perfect number, now, 56/ but at the time/ we prayed/ with all our might that/ the streak/ would go on/ forever" refers to his 56-consecutive-game hitting streak in 1941) mitigate the shadow cast by WWII and the prison sentence of Joseph's father ("Bombs fell/ on Pearl Harbor/ and my father/ was released before/ his sentence was over/ and all the/ newspapers/ showed Joe DiMaggio/ looking uncomfortable/ in a uniform/ not meant for/ playing baseball"). In an endnote, Testa reveals that her own father's life inspired Joseph's story, which explains the affection and immediacy of her words. Ages 10-14. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-33427-3
Paperback - 64 pages - 978-0-7636-2444-6
Prebound-Sewn - 51 pages - 978-0-7569-6576-1
Show other formats
Discover what to read next