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All Star!: Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever    by Jane Yolen & Jim Burke order for
All Star!
by Jane Yolen
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2010 (2010)
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

A baseball card featuring Honus Wagner fetched almost three million dollars three years ago. That's certainly a far cry from the $125 a month paycheck the bandy-legged short stop received early in his career when he signed with a Paterson, New Jersey, team.

Batting .349 his first season, Wagner kept improving. In 1900 he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates and won the first of his eight National League batting championships. When the Baseball Hall of Fame was established in 1936, Honus Wagner was in the first group of five men inducted into the hall of fame.

This remarkable, beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of this very special baseball player. From his early days working alongside his brothers and father in a Pennsylvania coal mine to the discovery of his special talents that blossomed on the baseball diamond and how the German youth made it to professional baseball, the author covers a lot of ground in this biography.

As part of the story, Jane Yolen also explains why the Honus Wagner baseball card is so rare. When the non-smoker realized his card was being included in cigarette packs, he had the cards pulled off the market. But before the cards were recalled, a few had already found their way into the hands of private individuals.

Youngsters six years of age and older, plus adults who collect baseball literature, will find this book an enjoyable read. Since he played during the sport's infancy, Wagner hasn't had as much coverage as later stars, which is a shame. Fortunately, this book is a step in the right direction and will make younger readers familiar with this early Hall of Fame selection.

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