Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Swinging for the Fences: Hank Aaron and Me

Swinging for the Fences: Hank Aaron and Me

Mike Leonetti
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Chronicle Books, 2008   ISBN: 978-0811856621

It is 1973 and Mark is having a hard time doing well as a player on the baseball team which he belongs to. He wants to score home runs, like his hero Hank Aaron, and is in such a hurry to do this that he ends up striking out instead. He comforts himself by looking at his Hank Aaron baseball cards and by following the player's career assiduously.

That summer Mark's father takes him to watch a Braves game. Mark is thrilled to see Hank Aaron play, and as he watches Hank hits his 700th home run. He is only 14 home runs away from Babe Ruth's famous home run record! After the game is over Mark and his father wait outside the players exit. Mark is hoping that Hank Aaron will sign his baseball bat for him.

At long last Hank Aaron comes out and he not only signs the bat but he also gives Mark some valuable advice about how to play baseball. Much as one would like to get home runs, it does not always happen. It is better to play for the good of the team than to try to get home runs before one is ready to achieve this coveted goal. Mark tries to follow this advice but he still in a big hurry to get home runs.

In 1974 baseball fans all over the country watch Hank Aaron's performance with bated breath. At his first bat of the season Hank Aaron ties Babe Ruth's record. Then he comes to play in Atlanta and Mark and his father go to see him. To his delight Hank Aaron breaks the Babe's record that day and Mark has a memory to treasure for the rest of his life.

Young baseball fans will love this book which is the first book in a series of fictionalized stories about young people getting to meet their favorite sports heroes. Readers will not only enjoy an entertaining story, but they will also learn quite a bit about one of baseball's most famous players. Young people will see that there are times when it is better to do what the team needs, then to do what you want to do.

The author provides further information about Hank Aaron in the back of the book.