Swinging for the Fences: Hank Aaron and Me

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This first book in a series about fictional encounters between children and their sports heroes features home-run legend Hank Aaron. In this gorgeously illustrated picture book, Mark, a young boy who idolizes Aaron, meets his hero and learns that there's more to being a great baseball player than hitting the ball out of the park.

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This first book in a series about fictional encounters between children and their sports heroes features home-run legend Hank Aaron. In this gorgeously illustrated picture book, Mark, a young boy who idolizes Aaron, meets his hero and learns that there's more to being a great baseball player than hitting the ball out of the park.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Keri Collins Lewis
When Mark steps up to the plate, all he wants to do is hit a home run like his hero Hank Aaron. Consequently, he often strikes out. His coach tries to get him to set his sights on base hits, but Mark will not listen. As he and his dad follow Hank Aaron's pursuit of Babe Ruth's home run record, Mark's excitement grows. After attending the game during which Aaron hits number 700, Mark waits by the players' exit to see his idol. When he finally meets Hank Aaron, what the famous ball player has to say surprises his young fan. The baseball legend encourages Mark to be a team player, to work on hitting singles, and to play well in the field. As the story progresses, Hank Aaron sends Mark his book about coaching kids how to hit, and as Mark takes the advice to heart his game improves. Amazingly, Mark and his dad also attend the game during which Aaron breaks the home run record, during which Mark reflects on how the issue of race impacted the event. By the book's end, Mark has learned he does not have to swing for the fences every time he bats and he is willing to be a team player. While the story of Hank Aaron and his accomplishment is worthy of attention, the implausibility of the plot involving Mark overshadows Hank Aaron's story. Lengthy blocks of text, bland illustrations, and uneven pacing prevent this book from being a likely candidate for reading aloud to groups of children. The book's primary appeal will be for those interested in baseball, or for inclusion in a unit about African Americans or athletic achievements. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis
School Library Journal

Gr 1-3- A Little Leaguer dreams of being a successful home-run hitter like Hank Aaron as he avidly follows Aaron's pursuit of Babe Ruth's record. Though his coach encourages him to just get on base, young Mark swings wildly and repeatedly lets his team down. After meeting Aaron at the ballpark following a game, Mark follows his hero's advice and learns to be a better team player. This well-intentioned picture-book tribute to Hank Aaron sports attractive acrylic spreads depicting games and indoor scenes and includes a credible amount of biographical detail. Overall, though, it is burdened by a didactic and all-too-familiar story line. Baseball fans will welcome any addition to the small number of books focused on Aaron, one of baseball's true heroes, but young readers seeking a full appreciation of his life and achievements would be better served by Peter Golenbock's Hank Aaron: Brave in Every Way (Harcourt, 2001).-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Mark always swings for the seats even when a single will help his team. His favorite player is Hank Aaron, who is closing in on Babe Ruth's record of 714 career home runs. He's even lucky enough to witness Aarons's 700th home run and to meet him afterward. Hank kindly imparts some hitting advice, and later sends Mark a book about hitting. At the beginning of the next season, Aaron sets the new record and Mark is there to see it, too. Predictably, even as his hero makes history, his own hitting skills improve, and he becomes a better player. Leonetti sacrifices narrative ease to didacticism, causing Mark's narration to be generally stilted and lifeless, the only slight exception being the description of Aaron's record-breaking game. Kim's bright, double-page spreads add some zest to the text. An afterword that provides biographical information about Aaron contains a puzzling error, stating that the Negro Leagues in 1951 were the only venue for African-American ballplayers even as it trumpets Jackie Robinson's 1947 entry into the Major Leagues. Disappointing. (bibliography) (Picture book. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781437972238
  • Publisher: DIANE Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 5/28/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Mike Leonetti is the author of numerous books for children, including a very successful series about hockey stars. Mike lives in Woodbridge, Ontario, with his wife, Maria, and their son, David.

David Kim was born in São Paulo, Brazil. This is his first children's book. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Customer Reviews

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