Cover image for All star! : Honus Wagner and the most famous baseball card ever
All star! : Honus Wagner and the most famous baseball card ever
All star! : Honus Wagner and the most famous baseball card ever
Personal Author:
Publisher Info:
New York : Philomel Books, c2010.
Physical Description:
1 volumes (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm.
Discusses the life and career of the Pittsburgh Pirates legend who was one of the greatest hitters and fielders in baseball history.
Added Author:


Call Number
Material Type
J 796.357 YOLE Book Juvenile Nonfiction

On Order



The Honus Wagner baseball card is the most valuable baseball card of all time! But he was born poor, ugly, bow-legged, and more suited to shoveling coal in his Pennsylvania mining town than becoming the greatest shortstop of all time. How could it happen? Did those strong arms and fast legs turn him into a Pittsburgh Pirate and one of the game's most unforgettable players?

In this true story, Jane Yolen shows us that wit, talent, perseverance, and passion score more than home runs. As Honus would say, ?How about that!? AUTHOBIO: Jane Yolen lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts.

Jim Burke lives in Beacon, New York.

Author Notes

Jane Yolen was born February 11, 1939 in New York City. She received a bachelor's degree from Smith College in 1960 and a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1976. After college, she became an editor in New York City and wrote during her lunch break. She sold her first children's book, Pirates in Petticoats, at the age of 22. Since then, she has written over 300 books for children, young adults, and adults.

Her other works include the Emperor and the Kite, Owl Moon, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and The Devil's Arithmetic. She has won numerous awards including the Kerlan Award, the Regina Medal, the Keene State Children's Literature Award, the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-5-This smartly crafted picture-book biography brings to life the Hall of Famer whose rare baseball card sold for three million dollars at a 2007 auction. Honus Wagner played for more than 20 seasons, most with the Pittsburgh Pirates; today he is recognized as one of the greatest shortstops ever. Born in 1874 to hardworking German immigrants, he lived in a hardscrabble suburb of Pittsburgh, whose skies were darkened by smoke from the city's many steel and iron mills. After sixth grade, Wagner and his brothers followed their father into the coal mines, where "he worked loading two tons of coal a day for 79 cents." Baseball offered a way out of the mines, and Wagner's natural talent and work ethic won acclaim throughout his career. With a storyteller's voice, Yolen's prose depicts the homely, bow-legged athlete: "it was said he could tie his shoes without bending over." Together with Burke's masterfully composed oil paintings, Yolen limns the athlete's strength of character whether in protecting an umpire from an unruly crowd or teaching his beloved daughters to play the game he loved so much. Another delightful oversize illustration finds Wagner awkwardly posed in a photographer's studio, his huge fielder's glove on his knee, as a group of young fans gather outside. Yolen and Burke have created an affectionate tribute to a baseball great and his times.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

How great does a baseball player have to be for his baseball card to sell for nearly $3 million? With emphatic prose and oil paintings that echo the perspectives and palettes of vintage photography and commercial art, Yolen and Burke amply prove that Wagner (1874-1955) did plenty to make that collectible worth every dollar. The treatment of Wagner's hardscrabble early years-he left school in the sixth grade to work in Pennsylvania's coal mines and used sandlot games to mold himself into a strong, fast, savvy player-is particularly masterful. What could have been a Bob Costas-like sports soap opera becomes an eloquently understated tribute to that archetypal American combination of stoicism, decency, drive, and sheer talent. Joining the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1900, Wagner went on to set record after record; as Yolen notes, "he did it all without drugs or fancy training programs or million-dollar incentives-just for the pure love of the game." (True to form, Wagner had his baseball card pulled from the market when he learned it was being sold in cigarette packs.) That's reason enough to take kids out to this ballgame. Ages 6-8. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Yolen opens her picture-book verse biography of one of baseball's most revered shortstops with a quick account of how his incredibly rare baseball card sold for almost three million dollars. She then firmly plants the story in Wagner's working-class upbringing, where the bowlegged boy packed on muscle loading coal in the mines and developed a love of baseball playing with his German immigrant family after church on Sundays. A handful of tall-tale-worthy anecdotes (picking up a frustratingly slow base runner and carrying him to the plate; loosening a couple of mouthy Ty Cobb's teeth) make for memorable lore, each ending with a folksy How about that! In stating the obvious, that Honus did everything without drugs / or fancy training programs / or million-dollar incentives, Yolen comes off as more grouchy than admiring, but she is in particularly fine form with her sharp baseball-specific descriptions ( the dust from a sliding steal curling up into his nose ). Burke's spacious and painterly artwork is a little static but nicely evokes a simpler era in this stately tribute to the early diamond hero.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist