Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, April 1, 2013

You Never Heard of Willie Mays?! by Jonah Winter

You Never Heard of Willie Mays?!

Written by Jonah WInter; Illustrated by Terry Widener
Schwartz & Wade. 2013
ISBN: 9780375868443
Kindergarten thru Grade 4
I obtained a copy of this book from my local public library.

Monday, April 1st is opening day of baseball season. Fans have been waiting to celebrate the first pitch, the crack of the bat, and the suspense of who’s gonna win! Willie Mays played baseball when it was a whites only sport. Yet, his talent as a player would change white peoples attitude. Willie could catch, throw, run, and hit. He could do it all! He was not just a great “black” baseball player -- he was simply the greatest baseball player most people had ever seen. Period.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama on May 6, 1931, William Howard Mays, Jr loved playing baseball as a young boy. His pop had played in the semipros and coached Willie how to hit and play to center. At fifteen, Willie started with the Negro League, first with the Chattanooga Choo-Choos and then the Birmingham Black Barons. In 1951, when Mays was 21, he joined the major leagues -- The New York Giants. 

Using the same writing style as in You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax, author Jonah Winter has a faceless old timer recount the life and major accomplishments of Willie Mays. Like how he earned the nickname, "The Say Hey Kid." To us kids, Mays was just like a big kid himself. He was one of us, and we loved him. And he loved us right back. Talkin’ to the fans, he’d always say, “Hey!” in that high-pitched voice that earned him the nickname the Say Hey Kid.

And fans did love him. You could fill a whole book with all the jaw-dropping plays Willie made, all the homers he hit, all the bases he stole. (lots of them are on Youtube) The book ends with Willie making 'The Catch' in 1954 during Game 1 of the World Series. With millions of people watching on their TV’s, they witnessed Willie’s greatness. Watch that famous game by clicking here. 

Artist Terry Widener, a baseball enthusiast, used acrylic on chipboard to create the full page illustrations, many are two-page spreads, that perfectly convey the excitement of the game. Sidebars of additional information, mostly Willie’s stats, are in the shape of a ticket. 

The book begins with an author’s note, and ends with highlights of Willie Mays’s career, glossary of baseball terms, more information on the statistics used in the book. Throughout the book Winter’s included four radio broadcast quotes. He does explain that of the four quotes, two are re-created (there were no transcripts) and two are the announcers actual words.

A wonderful picture book biography to share with students, both baseball fans and those who just want to hear a fabulous story of someone who was amazing.

Watch Mays in 2010 being interviewed by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show

No comments:

Post a Comment