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Henry Aaron's Dream Hardcover – January 12, 2010

13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3–5—This picture book pays homage to Aaron's strength of character and determination to play major league baseball. In 1940s Mobile, AL, young Aaron dreamed of playing though ballparks posted "Whites Only" signs and his father warned him, "Ain't no colored ballplayers." Then Mobile opened a "Colored Only" ball field, and, in 1947, Aaron learned that Jackie Robinson would play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After high school, Aaron joined a Negro League team, the Indianapolis Clowns. It was apparent that his talents would take him to the major leagues. Older teammates cheered him on, though "it was already too late for them." A large watercolor illustration captures the poignant scene as his teammates watch Aaron, who has just hit a towering fly ball, start to circle the bases. In both the Negro Leagues and the minor leagues, Aaron and his teammates met racism and hardship. White fans jeered, segregated restaurants and motels turned them away, and ballplayers often slept on buses while traveling between games. Tavares ends his account in 1954 when Aaron, having won a starting position on the Milwaukee Braves, met his hero in an exhibition game in his hometown. Well-written text and brilliantly composed art highlight the poignancy and triumph in Aaron's story. This rousing tribute should resonate with a wide audience.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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From Booklist

The opening page presents a stark reminder of baseball’s shameful past: a chain-link fence, its sign emblazoned with“WHITES ONLY,” separating the viewer from the field. This reality is echoed in the narrative, which opens with Aaron’s childhood. After seeing Jackie Robinson play his first game as a Dodger in 1947, the skinny boy who could hit the ball harder than anyone around—even though he held the bat with the wrong hand on top—knew he had a chance to live his dream. But, as Tavares pointedly relates, it was anything but an easy road. Aaron weathered racism with steady perseverance and outstanding play from the Negro Leagues to his Milwaukee Braves debut. Tavares’ vibrant artwork brings viewers into dingy dugouts, on cramped busses, and into the dust of the diamond as Aaron works his way into history. Though the book ends just at the outset of Aaron’s record-making big-league career, a final spread of stats shows how good he was, and for how amazingly long. The home-run record may have been stolen, but books like this ensure that Aaron’s legacy remains intact. Grades 2-4. --Ian Chipman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 920L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (January 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763632244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763632243
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.4 x 12.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,453,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

About me

I grew up in Winchester, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. I have always loved to draw. My parents say I've been drawing since I was two years old. During high school I took figure drawing classes at Boston University on weekends (a special class for high school students), and then in college I majored in Studio Art. For my senior thesis at Bates College, I wrote and illustrated my first picture book, Sebastian's Ball. Two years later, after much revision, Sebastian's Ball became ZACHARY'S BALL, my first published book. Now I live in Maine with my wife, Sarah, and our two daughters.

About my work

My first books were illustrated in pencil, partly because that was the medium I felt most comfortable with at the time and partly because monochromatic illustrations felt right for those stories. Since then, my style and process has changed considerably, mostly because I found myself illustrating stories that simply demanded some color. For example, the beanstalk in JACK AND THE BEANSTALK just needed to be green, and the golden eggs needed to have a bright, yellow glow. Now I mostly work in full color, with watercolor and gouache. I try to let each story guide me, and adapt my process accordingly.

Three things you didn't know about me

1. The best birthday gift I've ever gotten was the drafting table my parents got for me when I turned ten. I still use it today. There are other tables in my studio, but I do all my drawing and painting at the table I got for my 10th birthday.

2. I once played on a softball team that lost every single game. Zero wins and sixteen losses! We did much better the next season though- we even won a playoff game!

3. A poster of Boston Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe reading my book, ZACHARY'S BALL, was once given out to the first 10,000 fans at a Boston Red Sox game! This was wonderful, until Derek Lowe entered the game in the 9th inning and proceeded to blow the lead for the Red Sox. Hundreds of people threw their posters onto the field, and the game had to be stopped for several minutes while the ground crew gathered all the posters!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason Frost VINE VOICE on February 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was at an author's reception at a book industry event called 'Winter Institute' hen I saw the poster for this book on as easel. The very first thing I thought was, "Kadir Nelson has a new book"? The artwork was THAT stunning. Working on that wrong assumption, I made my way over there. Imagine my surprise when I did not see bald-headed, caramel colored, quiet brotha' named Kadir, but rather a regular, full head of hair guy named Matt.

I picked up a book and... guys I'm telling you... the artwork was simply breathtaking! When you open this book, you see a picture of neighborhood baseball players playing behind a fence. On the fence is a sign that says "Whites Only". Even that picture with all of the ugliness and that it represents is somehow beautiful.

I know I'm not telling you guys much about (if anything) about the story but I will. I promise. As soon as I get off my e-high from the art.......................... OK I'm ready: this is a mini-bio. It does not tell Henry's entire life story, but rather his childhood to his first major league game. Matt gives us a nice, brief history of Mr. Aaron's life punctuated with fun facts here and there. One of the things I did not know was that Henry held his bat wrong. He batted right-handed but his LEFT hand was on top. Awkward!

One of the most moving passages was when we read that Henry and his team in Jacksonville won the pennant. Because of the overwhelming racism, Henry (who was MVP by the way) and his Black teammates had to stay in the kitchen while the rest of the White team partied in the restaurant. The way Matt drew this particular picture speaks to the proud, and undaunted spirit of these extraordinary individuals. The story, honesty, was a good one.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joesdad on March 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
My wife picked this book up at our local library here in South Carolina to read at bedtime to our 6 year old. He loves baseball more than anything, and we try to keep him socially responsible, but this book was a little too much.
The first page starts out with a "WHITES ONLY" picture meant to indicate the world that Henry Aaron was living at that time. Twice in the book he uses such as "white fans called him n*****" and "white fans called Henry n*****". I feel the point could have been made without that verbage. In fact, it could have been presented in a manner to show how horrible that word is - not just inserted into the sentence.
I can appreciate the need for discussions on civil rights with our children. Heck, I live in South Carolina. But to be reading a book and come upon a word that I consider as vile as any in the English language, well, I have a hard time with that. My wife had nightmares that my child would go to school and repeat that.
I guess my point is that although this book may be considered a conduit to discussion on civil rights, it should really have a warning label - and age appropriate label. I understand our right to freedom of speech, but it is very easy for an author from Maine to not understand what he putting into the public domain. I understand that he just gave a book signing at the Martin Luther King Jr center in California. Fine. But as a person living in a state with a confederate flag flying on the state house grounds, this book does nothing but put a bad taste in my mouth. p.s. I love Hank Aaron.

THIS IS A FOLLOWUP TO MY REVIEW ABOVE: The other day on the way home from school, guess which book my son displayed that he had chosen from the library - "Henry Aarons Dream".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on August 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In this beautifully illustrated oversized picture book, award-winning author/illustrator Matt Tavares concentrates not on his home run record, but on the childhood and early career of baseball legend Hank Aaron.

The book opens with a full-page illustration of a baseball field, seen through a fence with a large sign, prominently featured, reading WHITES ONLY. We then meet Henry Aaron as a young boy in Alabama who wants to be a big-league baseball player. So poor that he can't afford a bat or a ball, Henry's father reminds him that there "ain't no colored ballplayers." There were no baseball diamonds, either, in Mobile, Alabama, either, where black kids could play ball. When a baseball field for "Colored Only" finally opens, young Henry spends all his time there practicing, till he can hit the ball harder than anyone else. Henry's whole world changed in 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Tavares depicts a glowing young Henry watching his idol play an exhibition game in Mobile.

Henry started his career in the Negro Leagues, figuring that might be his best chance to be discovered. His teammates knew he wouldn't be in the Negro Leagues for long, and soon a scout for the Braves spots Henry, offering him a minor-league contract. Like Robinson, Aaron was called racial epithets by white fans, and sent threatening letters. He even had rocks thrown at him.

During spring training in 1954, Henry got his chance with the majors, traveling with the big-league club during spring training. When two outfielders were out injured, Henry was put in, and before spring training was over, he had signed his first major-league contract. Henry's impossible dream had come true!
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