Waiting For Pumpsie (Barry Wittenstein)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Waiting For Pumpsie, written by Barry Wittenstein and illustrated by London Ladd, an uplifting story about the integration of the Boston Red Sox.

In 1959, the Red Sox are the only Major League Baseball team not to have integrated, twelve years after Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Dodgers. To Bernard, a young black boy from Roxbury and a die-hard Red Sox fan, this is mystifying. He knows what he reads in the papers (that the owners don’t want a black man on their team), and from his family’s yearly game at Fenway (where they are treated with contempt and open racism despite being fellow fans). “Change is coming real soon,” advises his mother, and sure enough, there’s talk of a talented minor-leaguer named Pumpsie Green. He looks sure to make the roster, but the owners hold him back at the last moment, claiming he’s “not ready”. However, after fan protests and a drop to last place, Pumpsie is brought up to the big leagues. Bernard and his family are overjoyed – but will the team truly give Pumpsie his opportunity to shine?

Powerful. Following Green’s integration through the eyes of one of his young fans, the tone and language of the text deftly strikes a delicate balance between reality and hope. Era-typical vernacular is used, including terms like “colored” and “negro”, used both as slurs but also generic terms (Bernard refers to his family and Pumpsie as “colored”, for instance); it’s jarring and uncomfortable, as it should be, and sets the stage for both Pumpsie and Bernard’s triumph of spirit at the end. Bernard and his entire family are heartwarmingly endearing characters, especially his fierce, hopeful mother and sage and kind father. Ladd’s gorgeous illustrations capture every scene of joy, anger, sadness, and pride. It’s a bit on the longer side, and the content is for the more mature bookworm, but JJ and I loved it. This is a moving tale about the importance of diversity, and how it can change lives in the biggest and smallest of ways. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this books was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

The Boo-Boos That Changed The World: A True Story About An Accidental Invention (Really!) (Barry Wittenstein)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Boo-Boos That Changed The World: A True Story About An Accidental Invention (Really!), written by Barry Wittenstein and illustrated by Chris Hsu, a story of how Band-Aids came to be.

Once upon a time, there was a couple named Earle Dickson and his beloved Josephine. Earle worked for the medical supply company Johnson & Johnson, and Josephine was a homemaker – a particularly accident-prone one. Earle would often come home to his wife and be sad to see that she had cuts or burns on her hands from cooking, and he worried about the non-sterile rags she used to wrap her injuries. After brainstorming for a while, Earl come up with a solution: a piece of gauze adhered to medical tape, and treated with crinoline to keep infection away. Josephine liked his invention so much that she, along with one of Earle’s friends, encouraged him to pitch the invention to his company. Band-Aids were born… but to a rocky start! But some savvy marketing and generosity would ensure that Band-Aid would eventually become a household name.

Very interesting! Band-Aids are such a staple of everyday life that it’s definitely worth knowing where the idea came from! And this book tells a fun tale, using a sense of humor and enthusiastic text to engage readers in the story. The illustrations are very cute, bringing the 1920’s to life with cheerful-looking characters and lovely backgrounds. The length was good, and JJ enjoyed it. There was one slight issue: a few times, the world “bloody” is used as a humorous double-meaning adjective. For American readers, this is not an issue, but many other English-speaking countries still consider this to be a curse word! In every other sense, this is an interesting tale with a great energy, and we liked it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)