Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Certain to be a hit with kids who take baseball history seriously, Winter's (Diego) handsome volume devotes a spread each to 14 stars of the Negro Leagues. Balancing stats with engaging trivia and anecdotes, the author will open readers' eyes to the injustices of segregated baseball: pitcher Satchel Paige, for example, completed some 2600 games, almost 2000 more than the official world champion, Cy Young. Winter also slips amusing lore into his conversational text, e.g., speedy Cool Papa Bell once "hit a ball up the middle--then supposedly ran so fast, he was hit by his own ball and called out"; center fielder Oscar Charleston caught fly balls with his back to them and sometimes did a somersault before catching a ball. Reminiscent of baseball card pictures (baseball cards were never issued for Negro League players), Winter's full-page illustrations of his subjects run the gamut from sharp, almost photographic likenesses to less-defined images; and from seemingly posed portraits to on-field action shots. This picture book joins with such full-length nonfiction as the McKissacks' Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball League and William Brashler's The Story of Negro League Baseball to help set some records straight. Ages 7-10. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
"Certain to be a hit with kids who take baseball seriously, this volume devotes a spread each to 14 stars of the Negro Leagues, from pitcher Satchel Paige to center fielder Oscar Charleston," said PW. Ages 7-10. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Donna Freedman
The author, who also illustrated the book, offers one-page profiles of Negro League greats such as Buck Leonard, Cool Papa Bell, Boojum Wilson and Satchel Paige. The illustrations, based on historical photos of the players, resemble baseball cards. Since it's a picture book, it's a good choice for baseball-mad parents to read to young fans in the making. But it's also interesting reading for older kids. Winter's profiles include inspirational facts such as the fact that Josh Gibson was not just a great player, but also "a nice guy," and that Biz Mackey was "a good role model for younger players" because he didn't drink or smoke. It's a nice contrast to the well-documented excesses of some of today's sports heroes. In an afterward, Winter matter-of-factly addresses the injustices that African-American players faced. Yet he ends on a positive note by imagining white and African-American players having their own games up in Heaven, and lists his own "Ultimate All-Star Teams In The Sky."
Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Brief biographies and portraits of fourteen great stars from baseball's Negro leagues are arranged like baseball cards, an appealing format for young readers. Included are Josh Gibson, who played for Washington's Homestead Grays and hit 75 homers in one year, and the legendary Satchel Paige, who pitched until he was 59 years old.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Using an anecdotal style, the author describes Negro League ballplayers' relationships with each other, their personalities and styles, quotable sayings, and of course, their contributions to the games. History, not always of interest to children, might become a hit when put in the context of baseball's past.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Each of these Negro-League players is accorded a page of text and a full-color painting. While brief, the profiles do convey something of the character and significance of each athlete. Readers learn, for instance, that legendary New York Giants manager John McGraw considered Negro Leagues star Oscar Charleston to be the greatest player he ever saw, and that Cool Papa Bell was so fast that "he could turn off the light and be in bed before it was dark." Players who were positive role models for youngsters are duly noted, as are those who were not: it is made clear that both Charleston and Boojum Wilson were mean, ill-tempered individuals who loved to fight. There are points about which one could quibble (e.g., Winter's assertion that Rube Foster "invented" the squeeze play, hit-and-run, and double steal) but on balance this is a good, highly accessible introduction to a group of athletes who deserve to be as well known as their white counterparts.-Richard Luzer, Fair Haven Union High School, VT
In this worthy packet of information about famous players from the Negro Leagues, Winter's narrative is marred only by a comic-book tone and exclamation points that detract from otherwise spectacular statistics and stories.