Henry Aaron's Dream
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Henry Aaron's Dream

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by Matt Tavares

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Matt Tavares hits one out of the park with this powerful tale of a kid from the segregated south who would become baseball’s home-run king.

Before he was Hammerin’ Hank, Henry Aaron was a young boy grow ing up in Mobile, Alabama, with what seemed like a foolhardy dream: to be a big-league baseball player. He didn’t have a bat. He


Matt Tavares hits one out of the park with this powerful tale of a kid from the segregated south who would become baseball’s home-run king.

Before he was Hammerin’ Hank, Henry Aaron was a young boy grow ing up in Mobile, Alabama, with what seemed like a foolhardy dream: to be a big-league baseball player. He didn’t have a bat. He didn’t have a ball. And there wasn’t a single black ball player in the major leagues. B ut none of this could stop Henry Aaron. In a captivating biography of Henr y Aaron’s young life – from his sandlot days through his time in the Negro Leagues to the day he played his first spring training game for the Braves – Matt Tavares offers an inspiring homage to one of baseball’s all-time greats.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tavares's (Lady Liberty) engaging biography focuses on Aaron's early baseball-playing years-before he was nicknamed Hank as a major leaguer. Growing up in Mobile, Ala., in the 1940s, he honed his skills at a "colored only" ballpark and dreamed of playing in the big leagues, despite his father's admonition, "Ain't no colored ballplayers." The author underscores the inspiration Jackie Robinson provided Aaron as the younger player held on to his dream despite setbacks on the field and racial prejudice. Using near identical language, the lyrical yet hard-hitting narrative describes the players' parallel experiences ("Some white fans called Henry a 'nigger.' Some even sent him letters, threatening to kill him if he kept playing"). Close-up portraits of Aaron on and off the field dominate Tavares's watercolor, ink, and pencil art. In the book's most rewarding-and exciting-scene, Aaron, a rookie for the Milwaukee Braves, finally shares the field with his hero during an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers, narrowly outrunning a throw from Robinson. A concluding note, with stats, tracks Aaron's later career. Ages 8-10. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
His childhood dream was to become a big league baseball player but growing up in Mobile, Alabama, in the 1940s made this all but an impossible dream for Henry Aaron. He did not have a real bat or baseball, or even a baseball diamond on which to play but he improvised. Two events made the dream seem a little more possible. When he was twelve years old, the city opened Carver Park, "the only baseball field in the whole city with a sign that said "Colored Only." When he was thirteen, Jackie Robinson became the first Black ballplayer in Major League Baseball. Tavares presents the odds, the insults, and the threats that Jackie, Henry, and other African American ballplayers had to contend with. He mentions the "n" word twice in this picture book. First, when discussing the racism faced by Robinson and later, the racism faced by Aaron. More than a baseball story, this is the story of how Hank Aaron pursued his dream successfully and became one of Major League Baseball's all-time greats. Tavares gives a nod to those who came before Aaron in the Negro Leagues. Tavares sets the scene even before the title page. Open the book and you see a sign that says, "Whites Only" on a chain-link fence. On the other side of the fence are boys playing baseball. Turn the page and there is a young boy in the back of a red pick-up truck looking longingly at the ballpark. These two pages aptly present what the dream is. Tavares' illustrations, in watercolor, ink, and pencil, show baseball in action. More captivating than that, however, are the facial expressions throughout the book The text is presented down the side of one page, allowing for ample space for the dramatic illustrations. Alert readers will notice that the 1954 Topps Hank Aaron rookie card has been reproduced on the back cover and inside the book. An "Author's Note" presents further information about Aaron's career and the Beacon of Life Award. His lifetime statistics and a bibliography are included, which will provide further reading for older students. Recommended for middle school and high school social studies classes. There is much here for discussion about American history, as well as setting goals and dreams. This is also a good read aloud for parents and younger children. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 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
Kirkus Reviews
This book opens with a stark image: Readers look through a chain-link fence at white boys playing ball, a large WHITES ONLY sign dead center. When Henry Aaron was a boy in 1940s Mobile, Ala., he played with a broom handle instead of a bat until he was 12, when a COLORED ONLY field was opened. He held the bat the wrong way, but he could hit harder than anybody. Inspired by Jackie Robinson and his older teammates in the Negro Leagues, Aaron signed with the Braves, playing first in the South Atlantic League in Class A ball and then the Majors. Tavares describes in straightforward but resonant prose what Robinson, Aaron and other black players endured-colored-only audience sections at the ballpark; restaurants and hotels that would serve their white teammates but not them; vicious and foul language-ending his account with Aaron's first
Children's Literature - Natalie Gurr
Henry, known to many Americans as “Hank,” Aaron had a dream: he wanted to play baseball in the major leagues. His father told him “Ain’t no colored ballplayers,” but Henry held tight to his dream. When Henry was twelve, Mobile, Alabama, opened Carver Park, the only baseball field with a sign that read “Colored Only.” Henry and his friends spent all their free time there and Henry practiced until he could hit the ball harder than anyone. When he was thirteen his whole world changed when Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. Now Henry knew his dream could come true. Henry continued practicing and joined the Negro Leagues. He moved his way up and was eventually recruited to play for the Atlanta Braves. This is a beautifully written biography of one of baseball’s all-time greatest players. An inspiring story of a young boy who had a big dream and worked hard, through difficulties and persecution, to make it happen. Gorgeous illustrations and simple flowing verses bring Henry’s story to life and will inspire young and old alike. Reviewer: Natalie Gurr; Ages 8 to 12.

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.50(d)
AD920L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Matt Tavares is the illustrator of Iron Hans: A Grimms’ Fairy Tale; ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, or an Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas; Jack and the Beanstalk; Doreen Rappaport’s Lady Liberty: A Biography; and Kristin Kladstrup’s The Gingerbread Pirates, as well as the author-illustrator of Zachary’s Ball, Oliver ’s Game, and Mudball. He lives in Ogunquit, Maine.

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Henry Aaron's Dream 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
nycalison More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for a class and thought that it was informative without being boring, and really captured Hank's struggle in an age appropriate way :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago