Ham­merin’ Hank: The Life of Hank Greenberg

Yona Zeld­is McDo­nough; Malc­ah Zeld­is, illus.
  • Review
By – November 11, 2011
The moth­er-daugh­ter writer/​illustrator team of McDo­nough and Zeld­is offer read­ers a pic­ture book biog­ra­phy of Hank Green­berg, a base­ball play­er who was tall, strong, and hand­some” and who also hap­pened to be Jew­ish.” With quotes from Green­berg and oth­ers inter­spersed with­in the text, McDo­nough details his child­hood in New York City and the Bronx, his expe­ri­ences play­ing bas­ket­ball at NYU, his career play­ing base­ball for the Detroit Tigers, his deci­sion to serve in the US Army dur­ing World War II, and his own­er­ship of the Chica­go White Sox. She also recounts the anti-Semi­tism that Green­berg faced from fans and play­ers, his deci­sion to play on Rosh Hashanah but not on Yom Kip­pur, and his encounter with Jack­ie Robin­son. The bright, folk-art paint­ings in bold, gar­ish col­ors, match the set­ting and mood cre­at­ed by the text. And, car­i­ca­tures of oth­er Jew­ish base­ball play­ers, like Moe Berg, Sandy Koufax, Shawn Green, and Gabe Kapler are clev­er­ly includ­ed, in base­ball card style, on the end pages. The appen­dix includes Hank Greenberg’s vital sta­tis­tics, a chronol­o­gy of his life, a glos­sary, and a bib­li­og­ra­phy, round­ing out this won­der­ful­ly acces­si­ble intro­duc­tion to baseball’s first Jew­ish super­star. Ages 7 – 10.

Rachel Kamin is the Direc­tor of the Joseph and Mae Gray Cul­tur­al & Learn­ing Cen­ter at North Sub­ur­ban Syn­a­gogue Beth El in High­land Park, Illi­nois. A past chair of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Com­mit­tee, Rachel is cur­rent­ly the co-edi­tor of Book Reviews for Chil­dren & Teens for the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries Newslet­ter. She holds a BA in his­to­ry from Grin­nell Col­lege and a master’s degree in library and infor­ma­tion sci­ence from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michigan.

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