A family’s love and devotion to each other and to the game of baseball, depicted lovingly.

BROTHERS AT BAT

THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMAZING ALL-BROTHER BASEBALL TEAM

At a time when local baseball was part of the American landscape, one family fielded its own team.

The Acerra family numbered 16 children, 12 of whom were brothers who all loved to play baseball. The boys played in high school and later formed their own semi-pro team. They played wherever they could get a good game and were known as highly skilled players and crowd pleasers. They shared a special closeness and loyalty, joking and teasing, but always looking out for one another. That loyalty extended to a love of country as six of them fought in World War II, which was the first time they had been separated. After the war they continued to play in local leagues, with younger brothers taking over when big brothers aged out. In 1997 they were recognized by the Baseball Hall of Fame as the all-time longest playing all-brother team. Employing descriptive, conversational language in a matter-of-fact tone that doesn’t sentimentalize, Vernick tells of a remarkable family, part of what has come to be known as "the greatest generation." Salerno’s lively drawings, rendered in black crayon, gouache, watercolor and pastel with digital color added, complement the action, striking a balance between detail and expansiveness.

A family’s love and devotion to each other and to the game of baseball, depicted lovingly. (author’s note; artist’s note) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-38557-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering.

THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH

An honestly told biography of an important politician whose name every American should know.

Published while the United States has its first African-American president, this story of John Roy Lynch, the first African-American speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, lays bare the long and arduous path black Americans have walked to obtain equality. The title’s first three words—“The Amazing Age”—emphasize how many more freedoms African-Americans had during Reconstruction than for decades afterward. Barton and Tate do not shy away from honest depictions of slavery, floggings, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, or the various means of intimidation that whites employed to prevent blacks from voting and living lives equal to those of whites. Like President Barack Obama, Lynch was of biracial descent; born to an enslaved mother and an Irish father, he did not know hard labor until his slave mistress asked him a question that he answered honestly. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch had a long and varied career that points to his resilience and perseverance. Tate’s bright watercolor illustrations often belie the harshness of what takes place within them; though this sometimes creates a visual conflict, it may also make the book more palatable for young readers unaware of the violence African-Americans have suffered than fully graphic images would. A historical note, timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes, bibliography and map are appended.

A picture book worth reading about a historical figure worth remembering. (Picture book biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5379-0

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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