|Volume 3, Number 2 Spring-Summer,
Book CornerIn this issue’s section, ALS News of New Jersey would like to highlight two best-selling books which are having a major impact in educating people, both old and young, about ALS. The first, by award-winning children’s author, David Adler, is Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man. It is illustrated by Terry Widener and published in 1997 by Harcourt/Gulliver. This book has already been named a Boston Globe/Horn Book honor book in the non-fiction category, and a National Parenting Publications Award Gold Winner. The second book is Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and the Last Great Lesson by well-known sports writer, Mitch Albom. This book has been number 1 in the hardback, non-fiction section of both the New York Times and Publishers Weekly for many weeks. We now present book review excerpts describing both books.
Gr. 3-5. Kids of today may not immediately recognize the name Lou Gehrig, but they will be immediately drawn into this picture book for older children about the “Iron Horse.” Adler sets his narrative stage by telling readers that in 1903, Henry Ford sold his first auto, the Wright brothers took their first flight, and Lou Gehrig was born. Yong Lou, who never missed a day of school, became a baseball player who never missed a game. Crisply and concisely, Adler covers the many high points of Gehrig’s career, at the same time giving young readers a real sense of the man and his shining spirit. Gehrig’s illness and eventual death from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are handled with dignity and in a way young readers will understand. The picture-book format gets a lift here from Widener’s impressive artwork. Reminiscent of WPA art with its rounded shapes and potent energy, these pictures project a zest for life on and off the playing field. The last spread, showing Yankee Stadium on the day of Gehrig’s funeral, awash in rain, provides a silent but powerful ending to Gehrig’s story.
Adler (author of the Cam Jansen novels) brings his subject into clear focus as he concisely tracks the legendary first baseman’s childhood and career, tragically shortened by the disease that now bears his name. The story’s emotional highlight clarifies the book’s subtitle: addressing a cheering crowd of fans in Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, the ailing ballplayer announced, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” A gracious tribute to a stalwart, modest and tirelessly optimistic man. Ages 5-9.
TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE: AN OLD MAN, A YOUNG MAN, AND THE LAST
This true story about the love between a spiritual mentor and his pupil has soared to the bestseller list for many reasons. For starters, it reminds us of the affection and gratitude that many of us still feel for the significant mentors of our past. It also plays out a fantasy many of us have entertained: what would it be like to look those people up again, tell how much they meant to us, maybe even resume the mentorship? Plus, we meet Morrie Schwartz – a one of a kind professor, whom the author describes as looking like a cross between a biblical prophet and Christmas elf. And finally we are privy to intimate moments of Morrie’s final days as he lies dying from a terminal illness. Even on his deathbed, this twinkling-eyed mensch manages to teach us all about living robustly and fully. Kudos to author and acclaimed sports columnist, Mitch Albom, for telling this universally touching story with such grace and humility.
Award-winning sports Albom was a student at Brandeis University, some
two decades ago, of sociologist, Morrie Schwartz. Here, Albom recounts
how, recently, as the old man was dying, he renewed his warm relationship
with his revered mentor. This is the vivid record of the teacher’s
battle with muscle-wasting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s
disease. The dying man, largely because of his life-affirming attitude
toward his death-dealing illness, became a sort of thanatopic guru, and
was the subject of three Ted Koppel interviews. This book, small and easily
digested, stopping just short of the maudlin and the mawkish, is on the
whole sincere, sentimental, and skillful. (The substantial costs
of Morrie’s last illness, Albom tells us, were partly defrayed by the publisher’s
ALS Book Available at Discount
The book, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Diagnosis and Management for the Clinician, edited by our Center Director, Dr. Jerry Belsh and our pulmonologist, Dr. Philip Schiffman, has been selling at a brisk rate. It has received excellent reviews in The Lancet (the premier medical journal of Europe), in Muscle and Nerve (the official journal of the American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine), and in Neurology (the most widely-read neurology journal of the U.S.).
Futura Publishing Company is continuing a program where ALS patients and families can purchase the book directly from the publisher at 25% off the $90 list price. To place an order, call Gary or Kae at Futura’s toll-free number 1-800-877-8761.