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  • 2015 Comstock Read Aloud Honor Books

    The Bambino and Me written by Zachary Hyman and illustrated by Zachary Pullen and published by Tundra Books, 2014.

    The Bambino and Me is the story of 10-year-old George Henry Alexander in the summer of 1927. There were no computers, television or video games in those days so George spent his time playing baseball. George was not good at baseball. He was always picked last for teams and Nick the Noodle called him "an easy out." But George loved the game so much he couldn't give it up.

    Baseball was called the "National Pastime" and everyone had their favorite team. George loved the New York Yankees and his favorite player was the great Bambino - Babe Ruth. His prized possession was his Babe Ruth baseball card and his dream was to see Babe play.Bambino

    George’s dream came true on his birthday when his parents gave him tickets to the game against the Yankees' biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox. His dream was quickly shattered when he opened a birthday gift from his uncle - a Red Sox jersey and cap. George didn't want to wear the jersey to the game but his parents insisted. He knew he was asking for trouble sitting with the Yankee fans in the enemy's uniform. But after the Yankees won the game, wearing that jersey brought him the biggest surprise of his life.

    Students grades 1 through 5 enjoyed the book. They laughed at the pictures, especially when George defied his mother and got his mouth washed out with soap. And children laughed at some of the phrases in the book such as, "I'd rather kiss a girl." Both boys and girls liked the story and they especially liked the theme of never giving up.

    Zachary Hyman has written several sports books for children that convey the idea that children who believe in themselves can accomplish anything they set their minds to. Hyman is currently studying at the University of Michigan on a hockey scholarship. Zachary Pullen’s picture-book illustrations have won awards and garnered starred reviews. His character-orientated books are popular with children and they are especially drawn to the detail in people's expressions. Pullen lives in Wyoming with his wife and son. This is the second book collaboration for Hyman and Pullen. Their first book creation was Hockey Hero. (BARB HOPPE)

    Gifts from the Enemy written by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Craig Orback and published by White Cloud Press, 2014.

    Gifts from the Enemy is a true story about a young man’s experience while imprisoned in a labor camp in Germany during the Holocaust. Alter Wiener learns at an early age that kindness can come in surprising ways and that hope can be found in something as simple as a cheese sandwich. This story sheds light on a beautiful act of kindness from one person to another despite the circumstances and the risk during a very dark time in history. The illustrations are simplistically detailed and luminous, supporting the text throughout the story.   GiftsFromEnemy

    Students responded enthusiastically to the book. Some said they learned that “Not all people are bad just because they are part of a bad group.” Students were engaged throughout the story and were interested in doing more research so they could learn more about World War II and the Holocaust. After reading the book to her class, one teacher commented that the students, “Really felt strongly about the book and stated that it reminded the children of their freedom.” Supplemental questions and activities for young readers are supplied to aide teachers and parents in the discussion of the history and background of this book.

    Author Trudy Ludwig resides in Portland, Oregon with her family. Her books have won numerous awards including the Mom’s Choice Gold Awards, the CCBC Best of the Year award, and School Library Journal Best Picture Book for 2013. Illustrator Craig Orback has illustrated over 20 children’s books and lives near Seattle where he teaches children’s book illustration classes. (ANNA WILSON)

    Rags: Hero Dog of WWI: A True Story written by Margot Theis Raven and illustrated by Petra Brown and published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2014.

    Rags, a stray dog, is rescued in Paris during WWI by Army Private James Donovan. When Donovan is sent to the battlefield, Rags goes along and helps the soldiers by chasing mice and rats out of the trenches, warning of incoming shells, delivering messages, and boosting the soldiers' morale. During a battle, Private Donovan and Rags are both wounded. Severely injured, Donovan is sent back to the United States and Rags refuses to leave his side and so returns to the U.S. with him. Rags

    Both students and teachers felt that this was a heartwarming story. Several comments were made about the story being sad, but one student replied it was a “good kind of sad.” Students liked that it was a true story which described a unique part of history during WWI. One group summed it up by stating, “We want to meet Rags.”     

    Background information on War Dogs of WWI and an epilogue that describes how Rags spent his final years are included.

    Margot Theis Raven was born in Indianapolis, IN on August 30, 1950 and died in Mt. Pleasant, SC on August 16, 2014. Raven was an accomplished fine art painter and a national award winning author. Rags: Hero Dog of WWI was her last book and was released just weeks before her death. Petra Brown, the illustrator, lives in North Wales, UK and has been a children’s book illustrator since 2006. (PEGI ECKER)