Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak is an amazing story in itself, but Rosenstock puts the streak in its historical context. We see how DiMaggio struggled to achieve the record and how his brilliant success gave hope to a nation facing a world war. Rosenstock sets the stage deftly on the first page where she talks about the first hit in DiMaggio’s streak:
It wasn’t news. Instead, the headlines in 1941 shouted about the war spreading like a fever through Europe.
She keeps her focus on DiMaggio, but with a few words here and there, we’re reminded of that war threatening in the distance.
Rosenstock’s verbs quiver with life: “whip,” “scuff,” “roar,” “soak,” “surge,” “yell,” “grab,” “rub,” “pound,” “trot,” “dance.” Her narrative voice is muscular and nimble. It’s a fun book to read aloud.
The back matter is satisfyingly hefty. She writes more than 500 words about what happened next, gives us memorable quotes and statistics, as well as providing quote attributions and explaining the sources of the newspaper headlines shown in the illustrations.
I admire Rosenstock’s ability to shape real life into a compelling, vivid story. She’s on her own streak with with creating great nonfiction picture books.
Here’s the one minute trailer, which focuses on the mystery aspect of the book: can DiMaggio break the streak without his beloved bat?
The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Terry Widener. Calkins Creek: 2014.