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Friday, February 1, 2019

Review and Giveaway: Waiting for Pumpsie by Barry Wittenstein



Waiting for Pumpsie 
By Barry Wittenstein 
Illustrated by London Ladd 
Feb. 2017 
Charlesbridge 
Source: pub 

In 1959 the Boston Red Sox was the last team in the Major Leagues to integrate. But when they call Elijah "Pumpsie" Green up from the minors, Bernard is overjoyed to see a black player on his beloved home team. And, when Pumpsie's first home game is scheduled, Bernard and his family head to Fenway Park. Bernard is proud of Pumpsie and hopeful that this historic event is the start of great change in America. 

This fictionalized account captures the true story of baseball player Pumpsie Green's rise to the major leagues. The story is a snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement and a great discussion starter about the state of race relations in the United States today. 


Praise for WAITING FOR PUMPSIE: 

★“A grand slam.”  —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) 

“Bernard's conversational narration creates a warm bond with readers from the get-go, and although Wittenstein and Ladd never sugarcoat instances of racial prejudice, the story's moments of triumph sound the loudest notes.”  —Publishers Weekly




It’s 1959 and young Bernard’s beloved Boston Red Sox still haven’t integrated. In fact, they are the last Major League team to do so. Elijah “Pumpsie” Green becomes the Sox’s first black player and Bernard is so excited to see a player that looks like him on his most favorite team and hopes that this historical event is only the beginning of change for black people in America. 

When discussing racial integration in Major League baseball you hear about some remarkable players of color, but until reading this book one name I never heard was Pumpsie Green. Waiting For Pumpsie is an engaging and uplifting picture book that does a great job of shining a spotlight on not only Pumpsie Green, but an important time in the Civil Rights Movement.  

Barry Wittenstein does a wonderful job of fictionalizing the very true story of Pumpsie Green through young Bernard’s eyes, creating a story that will captivate and speak to young readers. Waiting For Pumpsie expertly balances the joyous thrills and exciting fervor surrounding baseball with the realities of the harsh and despicable prejudices black people have long been subjected to. And London Ladd’s gorgeous painted illustrations perfectly capture both Bernard and Pumpsie’s stories. Ladd’s illustrations feel both vintage and fresh, and are so full of life and joy.  

Waiting For Pumpsie is as timely and powerful as it is exciting and engaging, and is sure to inspire thoughtful and important discussions. Makes for a perfect read aloud book every day and especially during Black History Month.  

MY RATING
5/5 Cupcakes


Barry Wittenstein has tended bar, driven a taxi, worked at CBS Records and CBS News back in the day, spent a decade writing music and lyrics, toiled six years as a web editor and writer for Major League Baseball, and three years as a substitute elementary school teacher.  He could be Walter Mitty's brother. 

Barry loves to write narrative nonfiction picture books. He is the author of Waiting for Pumpsie and The Boo-Boos That Changed the World. In 2019, he will publish two more nonfiction picture books—Sonny's Bridge, about the legendary jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins; and A Place to Land (with illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney) about how Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “I Have a Dream” speech. He is currently working on a YA novel. He lives in New York City with his wife. To learn more, and to download free curriculum guides, visit his website: https://onedogwoof.com/ or follow him on Twitter: @bwittbooks 

London Ladd: A graduate of Syracuse University with a BFA in Illustration. He has illustrated numerous critically acclaimed children’s books including March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World (Scholastic), written by Christine King Farris, the older sister of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Frederick's Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass (Disney/Jump at the Sun), written by Doreen Rappaport, and Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and her Secret School (Lee & Low Books), written by Janet Halfmann. 

Subtly textured acrylic paintings combine thick and thin layers with touches of pastel and colored pencil to bring his diverse subjects to life. Each unique image is steeped in intensity and emotion, a reflection of the artist himself. Varied influences range from comic books and graphic novels to classic and contemporary artists. 

His goal is to open an art center in Syracuse so that young people and families can create their own art. 
London is represented by Lori Nowicki of Painted Words. 


Win Waiting For Pumpsie!
The folks at Charlesbridge have generously offered one copy for one winner.
-US only
-ends 2/8/19
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, stolen prizes

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3 comments:

Danielle H. said...

This book will be fun to read as I love sports. I will also enjoy learning about this time and people.

kay Slowey-Sly said...

This sounds so good. Thank you for introducing me to this book.

Dan Denman said...

This sounds like an interesting and important story.