Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because I never heard of Willie Mays before I found this book in a bookstore! Plus, February is Black History Month and I thought this was a good choice to end the month.
by Jonah Winter
Illustrated by Terry Widener
40 pages – ages g+
Published by Schwartz & Wade on January 8, 2013
Theme/Topic – nonfiction/sports/history
Opening and Synopsis –
“You never heard of Willie Mays?! THE Willie Mays?! Oh, geez, where to begin? How about… Birmingham, Alabama. 1941. A kid with his ear glued to the radio.”
This book tells the story about how young Willie wanted to be “the next Joe DiMaggio” and practiced VERY hard. When he was growing up, African-Americans were treated unfairly and weren’t allowed to play in the National League. They had to play in the Negro League. The thing is, a lot of the Negro League teams were better than the National League teams, but the African-American players weren’t allowed to play. Willie started to play in the Negro Leagues at age 15 with the adults until “the major leagues ended their stupid rule barrin’ black guys“. Willie was signed to play with the New York Giants and lead them to the World Series! He could do it all, bat, run, throw. He became the best player of his time and he was a nice person.
Why I liked this book – Well, first off, just LOOK at these illustrations! They’re MARVELOUS! -
I like the way the story is narrated, I love the ‘voice’ of the book! I can totally hear someone telling the story! The message is totally awesome – I hear the message “with great power comes great responsibility” in the story… oh wait that was Uncle Ben in Spiderman. Well, you still get that message in this book. Mr. Mays had great powers and he used them for good. The story says that if you work hard, you get great rewards even if you are up against tough things! There is a baseball glossary in the back of the book and all of Willie Mays statistics. I like how there are little fact boxes spread all throughout the book to tell you different facts about baseball at the time Willie Mays was playing. I think kids 6+ will enjoy this book!
Activities and Resources –
If you can’t visit the baseball hall of fame in real life, you can visit the website by clicking HERE and learn about Willie Mays. There are video biographies about Mr. Mays.
You can also visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to learn more about the history of African-Americans in baseball – click HERE.
Check out all of Willie Mays baseball statistics HERE!
How about going out and playing baseball with your kids or taking them to a game (I suggest the Philadelphia Phillies ) ?
To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!