|Too Many Time Machines. By Mark Alan Stamaty. New York: Viking, 1999. 1v. (unpaged). $6.99. ISBN 0-670-88635-1.|
After watching a game in which the Babe hits two home runs, Roger tries to meet the great man but is turned away at the clubhouse door. As he goes back to his time machine, however, the Babe comes over to see this funky-looking "car." The Babe is skeptical that it's a time machine, so Roger makes a bargain: give me some batting tips and I'll take you back in time. The Babe agrees but insists they take the time trip first, and Roger takes him to Ancient Greece. They participate in the Olympics, in a chariot race, and in the building of a temple. Then the Babe wants to go to meet Leonardo da Vinci. Roger wants his batting tips first, but he reluctantly agrees to take this trip. But when they get back in the time machine, the Babe wants to drive it himself--and he presses the wrong button!
Stamaty's pencil art is often amusing, though plagued with stiffness in panels where the characters don't express much emotion. However, the faces of people in difficulty are quite funny, and Stamaty has a decent sense of cinema, as when Roger finds himself alone on the baseball diamond, waiting in vain for his teammates, or when he meets the Babe for the first time. Speaking of the Babe, he doesn't look much like the real thing, but kids wouldn't know that anyway.
Not a classic, but kids into baseball or time travel fiction should enjoy this title. I'm not good at "kid," but I'd guess this book would be most appropriate for ages 7-10, older kids who are reluctant readers, and younger kids who are good readers. The pencil art might be overlooked by kids more accustomed to four-color comics, but this book would be a good introduction to black-and-white comics for them, perhaps as part of a unit on graphic novels--not that anyone's doing stuff like that, but it's an idea. I do wish the entire book had been done in comics format, rather than just parts of it--the picture-book parts might be offputting to older kids.
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