VOYA Gives Hank a Thumbs Up

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When I began working at Inly School ten years ago, one of the first journals I began reading was VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates), a bimonthly journal that focuses on young adult literature. During graduate school, VOYA was one of my “go to” sources for its articles about teenagers and reading.  My respect for VOYA made their recent review of Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg that much more meaningful. Even better – VOYA’s review was the first e-mail I read on my birthday. A lovely way to begin the day. Here it is:


“Hank Greenberg became a superstar in the middle of the twentieth century. He had to endure jeering because he was Jewish, but he used the taunts as fuel to do his best. Sommer starts Greenberg’s life story with a look at his boyhood in the Bronx, where he grew up with Yiddish-speaking parents from Romania who did not understand why their son spent so much time on a game, but it was a game that would become Greenberg’s key to fitting in and to a stellar career. Greenberg was already six-feet-three inches tall in junior high. He played basketball, but baseball was his first love. His time with the Detroit Tigers became an inspiration for many, as he led his team to several World Series. His career was interrupted by his service during the war, but he came back to the game afterward, to the delight of his fans. Throughout his life, he was regarded by all as a fine gentleman, a good man for his actions both on and off the baseball field. This is a terrific addition to middle school and junior high libraries looking for a readable biography that carries extra dimension. This is more than the story of Greenberg, an inspirational Hall of Fame baseball player who happened to be Jewish. This is also the story of the times in which he lived, highlighting the flavor of America during the Depression, during World War II, and during a time when being Jewish or of color engendered blatant prejudiced behavior by too many Americans. For baseball fans or teens who love to read about people who have shaped history in a positive manner, this is a well-researched biography with interesting supporting materials, including Hank Greenberg’s picks for an all-star baseball team from players of old.” Reviewer: Mary Ann Darby

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