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The contest Save the Picture Book has ended. Telling people about funny, informative, beautiful, or generally awesome picture books continues. I also share middle grade books, book apps, and educational apps that my kids and I like.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two by Matt Tavares

Parents and teachers, please see post below for a printable Save Everything! (and the Picture Book) flyer. Kids can write reviews of baseball picture books and win books and other fun stuff for your home or classroom.

This week, we feature two very different baseball picture books written and illustrated by Matt Tavares. One is about a specific moment in baseball lore. The other spans a lifetime. We'll start with Henry Aaron's Dream (Candlewick, 2010.)

This picture book for older children tells the life story of Henry Aaron. Kids will enjoy hearing how he used a broomstick and bottle cap to play ball. They'll be interested to read that he and his friends gathered every day at the only public baseball diamond in Mobile open to blacks.

In reading Aaron's story, they'll see Jackie Robinson's career through the younger Aaron's eyes. (Aaron was 13 when Robinson played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first black player in Major League Baseball.) They'll also learn that integration in baseball took more than one player and one game. The South Atlantic League integrated later, and even when Aaron played, the stands were segregated. Sadly, Aaron endured the same hatred Robinson faced much earlier. The book includes the n-word to show the despicable treatment of black players by white fans.

Aaron is an inspiring figure, and kids will be inspired by the pursuit and achievement of his dream. Henry Aaron's Dream a great example of how baseball picture books not only tell the story of our nation's pastime, but also of our nation.

In contrast, Mudball, also by Matt Tavares (Candlewick, 2005,) tells the legend of the shortest hit home run ever. In 1903, Andy Oyler of the Minneapolis Millers, is a short player with a long batting slump. Then, during a rainy game, he hits the ball, and it gets lost in the mud as he circles the bases.

Kids will like reading about this underdog player and the moment he went down in history. Baseball may be more than a game, but it also IS a game, and sometimes funny stuff happens during it!

Tavares' There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived comes out February, 2012.

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