cover image Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man

Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man

David A. Adler. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200523-8

In memorable paintings-a view of a baseball diamond from behind a swinging batter's shoulder; Lou Gehrig as seen from a ""nosebleed seat"" in Yankee Stadium-newcomer Widener inventively manipulates perspective and scale. His stylized acrylics, in which the players have nearly the bulk and grace of Henry Moore statues, vividly recreate the look and feel of major league baseball in the '20s and '30s-right down to the changes made to the New York Yankees' uniform throughout the 14 years during which Gehrig played 2130 consecutive games. Curiously, the artist never, except in the cover art, portrays his subject (or anyone else) with open eyes, which makes Gehrig seem somehow distant. But Adler (author of the Cam Jansen novels) brings his subject into clear focus as he concisely tracks the legendary first baseman's childhood and career, tragically shortened by the disease that now bears his name. The story's emotional highlight clarifies the book's subtitle: addressing a cheering crowd of fans in Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, the ailing ballplayer announced, ""I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."" A gracious tribute to a stalwart, modest and tirelessly optimistic man. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)