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by Matt Tavares & illustrated by Matt Tavares

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3224-3
Publisher: Candlewick

This book opens with a stark image: Readers look through a chain-link fence at white boys playing ball, a large WHITES ONLY sign dead center. When Henry Aaron was a boy in 1940s Mobile, Ala., he played with a broom handle instead of a bat until he was 12, when a COLORED ONLY field was opened. He held the bat the wrong way, but he could hit harder than anybody. Inspired by Jackie Robinson and his older teammates in the Negro Leagues, Aaron signed with the Braves, playing first in the South Atlantic League in Class A ball and then the Majors. Tavares describes in straightforward but resonant prose what Robinson, Aaron and other black players endured—colored-only audience sections at the ballpark; restaurants and hotels that would serve their white teammates but not them; vicious and foul language—ending his account with Aaron’s first major-league appearance. The author illustrates his powerful words with extraordinary, heroic images: Muscular watercolor, ink and pencil pictures put readers right in the scene, often looking up at Aaron. Very fine. (author’s note, stats, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)