Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The Unforgettable Season: The Story of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and the Record-Setting Summer of '41
by Phil Bildner; Illustrated by S.D. Schindler
G.P. Putnam's Sons (an imprint of Penguin Group) 2011
A copy of this book was obtained by the reviewer from the
Southern Maine Library District's examination collection.
Baseball books are quite popular in my school library, so I was eager to pick up a copy of The Unforgettable Season. Many children (and adults) are intrigued by the history and statistics related to the game, and this book includes both. Bildner parallels the stories of two baseball legends who broke batting records during the summer of 1941. Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak pulled the Yankees out of a slump while Ted William's .406 batting average brought great excitement to Red Sox Nation.
The book in not merely a collection of statistics and play-by-play descriptions of games; it's the story of how two players captivated the entire country with grace and honor. Bildner's narrative style and use of quotes from the players will draw readers into the story as he alternates between DiMaggio's feats with the Yankees and Williams' accomplishments for Boston.
"Up to the plate stepped Ted Williams, the Splendid Splinter. Boom! The ball soared high and deep down the right-field line. Without a doubt the ball was going to land in the upper deck of Briggs Stadium. But would it stay fair? Yes! Ted had hit the game-winning three-run home run!"
In addition to the alternating stories of the two baseball greats, Bildner describes how fans reacted. Families gathered around the radio, congressmen interrupted meetings for baseball updates, and Les Brown and His Orchestra recorded a song in honor of the hitting streaks.
The ink, watercolor and gouache illustrations are appropriate for the story. Muted colors give the story a feeling of nostalgia. The illustrations of balls in motion are excellent. Schindler effectively uses illustrations in boxes layered on top of each other to show elapsed time when Joe DiMaggio broke the Yankees team record in a thirty game hitting streak.
The last page of the book includes three baseball hitting statistics along with illustrations of baseball cards. The delightful illustrations and captivating story are sure to make The Unforgettable Season a popular book with readers young and old!