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You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! Hardcover – February 24, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Ishi, Simple Tips from a Solid Friend
Ishi, Simple Tips from a Solid Friend
An award-winning, shareable, cozy hug of a picture book featuring Ishi, an optimistic little rock who reminds readers to choose and share happiness. Hardcover | See more for ages 3-5
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The huge lenticular cover image of pitcher Sandy Koufax in action makes this book hard to ignore; Winter's fan-in-the-stands-style prose and Carrilho's high-impact, editorial-style images make it hard to forget. Neither author nor artist explain the famously self-contained 1960s Dodgers pitcher (Just when you were startin' to understand him, he'd haul off and throw you a curve, says the anonymous former teammate who serves as narrator). Instead, they capture what it feels like to be in the presence of an exemplary athlete. The obstacles that Sandy Koufax faced—physical limitations; anti-Semitism (Some of the guys said some pretty lousy things behind his back—things I can't repeat)—are portrayed with zero sentiment; readers will root for Koufax because he is an engine of pure action. Debut artist Carrilho, offering texturally complex, digitally manipulated pencil drawings, has a bold, arresting aesthetic: while his harsh shadows, distorted perspectives and angular faces speak of a hardboiled reality, the baseball field itself is a storied place, rendered not in green but gold. Koufax becomes a figure of totemic strength, his eyes narrowing to black slits underneath bushy eyebrows, his body twisting as he delivers the perfect pitch. Not just a home run, this book is a grand slam. Ages 4–9. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 1–5—This picture-book biography of a pitching ace is a real treat. Much about this private man has been a mystery, so Winter focuses on how the gifted young athlete went from unpredictable to otherworldly in such a short time. Koufax spent his early years with the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he was either warming the bench or walking batters. The team moved to Los Angeles in 1957, and it wasn't until 1961 that he learned to control his pitch. He then proceeded to flummox opposing hitters until 1966, when he unexpectedly retired. The unnamed narrator, a teammate who speaks in the vernacular of an old-timer, greatly influences the voice of the book: readers can hear the spit of sunflower seeds between the lines. That Koufax was a Jew playing baseball at a time when the game was still deeply segregated is mentioned and honored, particularly with the anecdote of how he gave up his spot in the World Series rotation to observe a High Holy Day. Carrilho's caricature style is reminiscent of Al Hirschfeld's work, exaggerating everything that is beautiful and unknown about Koufax, from his extraordinarily athletic body to his private mystique. The graphite illustrations, enhanced via Photoshop, are dominated by golds, grays, and, of course, Dodger blue. While the author never offers an explanation for his subject's metamorphosis, that it should be hailed and remembered is never in doubt. This striking book deserves a wide audience.—Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: AD830L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (February 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375837388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375837388
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.4 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #452,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Mmf. Baseball. Symbolic sports of its ilk get all the good press when it comes to children's books. Tiki Barber books aside, if I were to place odds I'd have to say that a full 50% of kids books about sports concentrate on baseball. After all, its fans are inclined to view a regular game as nothing short of epic. Men in a field. Duking it out under a blazing sun. The intermingling of strength and smarts. Yeah. So basically baseball bores me to tears. I'll sit in on a game anytime you like, but that's just as something to pass the time doing. So when I pick up a book like "You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!" I'm looking at it the same way any bored nine-year-old might. I place it on my lap and yell at it, "Okay, book! Impress me! Make me care!" It's a tall order. Lesser books have scuffled their feet and slunk away from the challenge. And for all that the cover of this book is a holographic wonder, I wasn't gonna let some pretty Johnny-come-lately charm me into thinking it was any good right off the bat. You want my love? Thrill me. And darned if Jonah Winter throws that request right back in my face. He's taken Sandy Koufax, a guy I've only vaguely heard mentioned before alongside the word "Dodgers", and has woven a tale of becoming the best through time, effort, and grotesquely swollen limbs. So I am telling you here and now that if you have a kid that loves baseball, or a kid that couldn't care less, whatever the case may be this is the book for them. You never heard of Sandy Koufax? Get ready to.

He was just a Jewish kid from Brooklyn, really. Growing up he seemed to be good at every sport he did, but when it came to pitching that Koufax kid was something else.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a born and raised Brooklyn Dodger fan… whose family actually moved from New York to Los Angeles the same year as the Dodgers… and being Jewish… Sandy Koufax was one of my idols. He not only became the greatest pitcher in all of baseball during my lifetime… but he was an unmatched Jewish role model. When Sandy wouldn’t pitch in the biggest games of the year if they fell on the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah as well as Yom Kippur)… it was a lesson to all Jewish youth. As I was a pitcher myself with good success in Little League… Babe Ruth League… American Legion… as a young teenager… one of my big games fell on the High Holidays. Being young… and unworldly… I started to say I should be allowed to pitch… but my tough little 5’ 2” Brooklyn Mother… (I am 6’2”)… snarled at me… and said: “IF IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR KOUFAX… IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU!!! YOU AIN’T PITCHING!” To this day… fifty years later… I’m glad my Mom said what she said. (Note: Full disclosure: There was one more word in my Mother’s declaration… that I’m leaving out to make sure that my review makes it past the censors!)

This elegantly designed short “children’s” book… presents Sandy’s story from start to finish… and in a very easy to read format… tells of Sandy’s rise from a young bonus-baby… whose fastball could beat an intercontinental ballistic missile in a race… but couldn’t hit the side of a barn from 60-feet-six-inches away… to his having the greatest consecutive five-year pitching string in the history of Major League Baseball. Being that my oldest Granddaughter is ten-years-old… my son and I have been discussing the best… most sensitive way… to discuss with her… and prepare her for… the anti-Semitism… that has existed… and continues to exist in the world today.
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Format: Hardcover
Children's book are always fun for me to read - partially because they give my brain a needed rest, but more importantly because we need to keep the younger generations connected to the game to make sure they're made aware of what a great game baseball is and will be fans for life.

Hitting stores this past Tuesday is You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Andre Carrilho, a book that I'm told is geared towards children ages 4-9.

One of the ways I try and judge children's books is by how good they sound out loud, and that's where I started to sense that I might not like this one.

First, the text of the book seems a bit advanced for 4-9 year olds. Now I know that kids are getting smarter and smarter all the time - I know 5 year olds that can text message for crying out loud - but this seems like it would be lost on a lot of kids.

To get a different opinion on the matter, I asked my girlfriend to read the book - she works with kids of all ages at a local tutoring center, and she concurred that the book would be geared to a bit older of an audience, maybe 9-11 year olds.

If anything, I consider that a credit to Jonah Winter, who has authored several other children's books, including three other baseball-related titles. The book doesn't read particularly well in my opinion, which isn't a bad thing - it just means it's not necessarily geared to the younger set.

Told from the position of someone within the Dodger organization, although that person is never named, the story is a basic look at Koufax's early life and his yearswith the Dodgers, including his wild period before he became dominant, eventually moving onto his peak years and early retirement.
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