The Babe & I


It's 1932 and hard times are everywhere. But life isn't all bad. America still loves baseball, and Babe Ruth is the star of the game. And two boys are about to discover that with some creativity, hard work, and a little help from the Babe himself, they can do their part to help out their own team!

While helping his family make ends meet during the Depression by selling newspapers, a boy meets ...

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It's 1932 and hard times are everywhere. But life isn't all bad. America still loves baseball, and Babe Ruth is the star of the game. And two boys are about to discover that with some creativity, hard work, and a little help from the Babe himself, they can do their part to help out their own team!

While helping his family make ends meet during the Depression by selling newspapers, a boy meets Babe Ruth.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The kind of book that makes you want to buy season tickets."
The Horn Book

"Adler and Widener score big—their book reads like a labor of love."
Publishers Weekly

[star] "This nostalgic, heartwarming story about hard work and teamwork highlights heroes big and small."—Booklist (starred review)

Horn Book Magazine
The team that brought us Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man rev. 7/97 has homered again with this upbeat yet touching story set in 1932 during the Depression. The locale is the Bronx, where the more affluent buy tickets to see the great Babe Ruth perform his magic in Yankee Stadium, but where others, unemployed, sell apples on the sidewalk. The story begins when the young narrator, believing that his father is one of the lucky ones with a job, is disappointed to receive a dime, not the hoped-for bicycle, for his birthday. Later that day, he discovers the truth-that his father is one of the unemployed apple sellers, but ashamed to inform his family. With the help of his friend Jacob, the boy becomes a "newsie" to supplement the family income. He, too, tries to keep his occupation a secret, but when it is revealed, father and son develop a bond of understanding. Meanwhile, tutored by Jacob, the boy becomes proficient at selling papers, selecting the right headlines to entice customers. At Yankee Stadium, the appropriate focus is always the latest news about Babe Ruth-and one day, the Babe himself buys a paper with a five-dollar bill, enabling the two boys to see a real Yankee game. Terry Widener's illustrations are reminiscent of the regional murals of Thomas Hart yet are definitely his own, evoking the ambiance of the period without attempting a slavish imitation. Carefully paced, remarkable for its unified focus, this is the kind of book that makes you want to buy season tickets.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the Bronx in 1932, a boy out walking with his friend discovers that his ostensibly employed father is actually selling apples on the street. Shocked, the boy numbly follows the friend, a "newsie," to work and ends up learning a great strategy for selling papers: go to Yankee Stadium and shout the latest about Babe Ruth. Adler, previously paired with Widener for Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man, creates an empathic but unsentimental portrait of life during the Depression. He conveys the father's humiliation and pride, but the boy's satisfaction in his own job and the family's general happiness keep their lot from seeming pitiful. After selling a paper to the Babe himself, the boy feels new kinship with him: "He and I were a team.... His home runs helped me sell newspapers." But baseball isn't really what drives the book--more importantly, "I knew Dad and I were also a team. We were both working to get our family through hard times." Widener's acrylics have a striking presence: their massy forms and jaunty, exaggerated perspectives achieve a look that's both nostalgic and edgy. Adler and Widener score big--their book reads like a labor of love. Ages 5-9. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly
In the Bronx in 1932, a boy goes to work and ends up learning a great strategy for selling papers. "Adler and Widener score big-their book reads like a labor of love," wrote PW. Ages 6-9. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Upon discovering that his father is out of work and selling apples on the street corner, the young protagonist joins his friend Jacob in selling newspapers. After picking up their papers, Jacob takes him to Yankee Stadium where they hawk their papers by giving headlines about Babe Ruth. Then one day, while selling the papers, a tall man buys a paper and tells him to keep the change from the five-dollar bill. Jacob informs him that it was Babe Ruth himself who bought that paper. There was enough to buy two tickets to the game and still add to the money jar, so that is what he did. He continued to keep his father's unemployment a secret from his mother, and knew it was okay because, "I knew Dad and I were also a team." Love, respect, and responsibility and the excitement of Babe Ruth are interwoven in this picture book. The expressive illustrations convey the Bronx in the 1930s. The first person narrative works well in this story of the strong bond between a father and his son.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
The young hero is angry when he receives a dime rather than a new bike for his birthday. This is the Great Depression, and he discovers that his father has lost his job. He is selling apples on a corner and hiding the fact from the family. The boy's friend, Jacob, is a "newsie." He teaches him the secret of success which is that baseball sells more papers than tragedy. Emotions run strong in this story. It shows an era where a boy could earn more than his father and how shame makes for secrecy. Baseball and Babe Ruth provide a magic that helps this young boy, like many others in the 1930's, transcend troubles and realize that teamwork can conquer any difficulty.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-A moving story about how the famous Yankee unknowingly affects a young fan and his family. In the summer of 1932, a boy spots his father dressed in a suit and tie selling apples on the street, and he realizes that his dad, like so many other men, has lost his job. To help out their families, the youngster and a friend start selling newspapers outside Yankee Stadium, calling out the headlines from Babe Ruth's latest game. Their efforts earn some money, but the narrator is worried that his dad's feelings will be hurt if he finds out. Eventually, father and son come to a tender and silent understanding about their money-making activities. The tone brightens considerably when the boy sells a paper to the Babe himself and gets to see a real Yankee game, thanks to the slugger's generosity. Adler does a good job of balancing the personal relationship between father and son with a vivid portrait of the Depression and the positive impact of a true sports hero. Widener's stylized acrylic illustrations bring the city streets to life in an appealing way. The varied perspectives and exaggerated figures add excitement to the setting and the images and use of color perfectly reinforce the story's changing moods and emotions. A powerful picture book that's sure to be popular.-Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Margaret Willey
The Babe and I is an unusual picture book in that it depicts the coping skills of individuals and families during 'hard times,' yet is not in the least depressing or disturbing. David Adler's story is upbeat in a no-nonsense way that seems particularly fitting to the setting and the times...Terry Widener's illustrations are stylized and cartoonish. The Babe and I is a boy's story, a generous, friendly one with an understated message about carrying on against adversity.
Riverbank Review
Kirkus Reviews
Adler (also with Widener, Lou Gehrig, 1997, etc.) sets his fictional story during the week of July 14, 1932, in the Bronx, when the news items that figure in this tale happened. A boy gets a dime for his birthday, instead of the bicycle he longs for, because it is the Great Depression, and everyone who lives in his neighborhood is poor. While helping his friend Jacob sell newspapers, he discovers that his own father, who leaves the house with a briefcase each day, is selling apples on Webster Avenue along with the other unemployed folk. Jacob takes the narrator to Yankee Stadium with the papers, and people don't want to hear about the Coney Island fire or the boy who stole so he could get something to eat in jail. They want to hear about Babe Ruth and his 25th homer. As days pass, the narrator keeps selling papers, until the astonishing day when Ruth himself buys a paper from the boy with a five-dollar bill and tells him to keep the change. The acrylic paintings bask in the glow of a storied time, where even row houses and the elevated train have a warm, solid presence. The stadium and Webster Avenue are monuments of memory rather than reality in a style that echoes Thomas Hart Benton's strong color and exaggerated figures. (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152050269
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 160,919
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 330L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.80 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

DAVID A. ADLER has written more than a hundred books, including Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man and Mama Played Baseball. He lives on Long Island, New York.

TERRY WIDENER 's work has been featured in Esquire, Harper's, Sports Illustrated, and on the cover of Time. He has also illustrated several books for children, including Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man. He lives in McKinney, Texas.

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