Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates

( 4 )


On an island called Puerto Rico, there lived a little boy who wanted only to play baseball. Although he had no money, Roberto Clemente practiced and practiced until—eventually—he made it to the Major Leagues. America! As a right-fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he fought tough opponents—and even tougher racism—but with his unreal catches and swift feet, he earned his nickname, "The Great One." He led the Pirates to two World Series, hit 3,000 hits, and was the first Latino to be inducted into the Hall of Fame....

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On an island called Puerto Rico, there lived a little boy who wanted only to play baseball. Although he had no money, Roberto Clemente practiced and practiced until—eventually—he made it to the Major Leagues. America! As a right-fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he fought tough opponents—and even tougher racism—but with his unreal catches and swift feet, he earned his nickname, "The Great One." He led the Pirates to two World Series, hit 3,000 hits, and was the first Latino to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. But it wasn't just baseball that made Clemente legendary—he was was also a humanitarian dedicated to improving the lives of others.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Winter's (Fair Ball!: 14 Great Stars from Baseball's Negro Leagues) uneven narrative offers an overview of baseball great Clemente. The opening spreads introduce Roberto as a child in Puerto Rico, with "very little/ but a fever to play/ and win at baseball." He made a bat from a guava tree branch and fashioned a glove from a coffee-bean sack. The narrative quickly moves to Pittsburgh, where Clemente played for the Pirates, and his finesse on the field helped this last-place team go on to win the World Series his first season there (unfortunately, the text does not specify which year). Fueling the player's desire to excel at the game, Winter suggests, was the fact that although adored by his fans, Clemente did not receive respect or credit from American sportswriters (" `It's because I'm black, isn't it?"/ .../ It's because I am Puerto Rican,' " he asks the "sneering reporters"). The narrative highlights his "one-man show" during the 1971 World Series, in which the Pirates beat the favored Baltimore Orioles, and his 3,000th hit in 1972. Clemente's story ends tragically when his plane crashed as he headed to Central America to aid earthquake victims there. Rendered in watercolor, colored pencils and litho pencils, Colon's (A Band of Angels) art is inconsistent, juxtaposing evocative, richly textured and warmly hued paintings with less successful pen-and-inks. For baseball fans, this spotty biography leaves out many of the tantalizing details on the field, while newcomers may find Clemente's personality curiously distant and vague. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This biography begins like a story, "On an island called Puerto Rico, where baseball players are as plentiful as tropical flowers in a rain forest, there was a boy who had very little but a fever to play and win at baseball." In this lyrical manner, with words written in couplet form, the author shows how Clemente went from a boy with a guava tree bat, coffee-bean sack glove and soup can baseballs to a man who lifted the down-trodden Pittsburgh Pirates to victory, brought respect to Hispanic peoples, and fought to relieve his country's poverty until his death. Strong similes, passion for sports, Raul Colon's powerful illustrations serve to remember the spiritedness of this player. 2005, Atheneum, Ages 7 to 12.
—Susie Wilde
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-This sparkling picture-book biography is a worthy tribute to an individual whose greatness extended beyond the baseball field and whose stature continues to grow. The lively text highlights the achievements of his incredible career: his extraordinary fielding, his leadership in guiding the Pittsburgh Pirates to two World Series wins, and the accomplishment of recording 3000 hits. The author also imbues his subject with character: Clemente was notable for his generosity and as a trailblazer for Latino ballplayers. He struggled throughout his career with a condescending press, but after his performance in the 1971 World Series, no one could deny his greatness. The book ends with Clemente's tragic death in a plane crash as he was attempting to bring aid to victims of an earthquake in Central America. The illustrations, with their trademark swirls and detailed cross-hatchings, are perfectly suited to the text. Col-n alternates between full-color and black-and-white drawings: they add detail and drama, and the book's overall design is striking. Both author and illustrator are at the top of their game here. A delight for sports lovers as well as general readers.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Growing up in Puerto Rico, Roberto Clemente dreamed of playing baseball. Too poor for regulation equipment, he hit soup cans with a tree branch. In spite of his obvious talent, throughout his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, newspaper writers questioned his ability and used Latino stereotypes to denigrate him. The sheer brilliance of his play in 1971 and 1972 finally awakened the media to his greatness. Sadly, before he could bask in the adulation, he was killed in a plane crash while flying to aid victims of an earthquake. Winter employs straightforward, powerful language to capture the essence of the man. Each two lines of text are separated by a blank line, giving the appearance and cadence of poetry. Colon enhances the text with a variety of techniques, including mixing black and white and color pages and repeating images from different perspectives. A well-constructed introduction to a compassionate, dignified, multi-talented sports hero. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416950820
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/4/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 345,192
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonah Winter is the celebrated author of many picture book biographies, including Barack, which was a New York Times bestseller. His other books include Here Comes the Garbage Barge, Sonia Sotomayor, Roberto Clemente, and others. A poet and a painter, Mr. Winter lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Raúl Colón has illustrated several highly acclaimed picture books, including the New York Times bestselling Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt, Susanna Reich’s José! Born to Dance, and Jill Biden’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops. Mr. Colón lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New City, New York, with his family.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:


    This is a beautiful story of a Pittsburgh baseball great that you will read again and again!! The illustrations are incredible and add so much to the story. This is a book you will cherish and save to read to your grandchildren after you have read it time and time again to your children!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Pittsburgh Pirate.

    Favorable review: Informative and educational. This is a good biography of a great baseball player as well as a lovely, charitable human being. *Wonderful black & white and color illustrations in this biography make Roberto Clemente's life story come alive. As a Pittsburgh Pirate Roberto was a base stealer - stealing like a pirate. What team did Roberto and the Pittsburgh Pirates win against in his first world series? When was Roberto Clemente born? Where was he born? What is he most remembered for? This brief biography will answer these and many other questions about the life of Roberto Clemente. If you enjoy sharing this with the youth, here is a DVD you may want to share as well:"Inspiring Figures: Duke Ellington & Ella Fitzgerald." Here is a review for it: "King of the Keys" & "Queen of Scat" - Edward Kennedy Ellington aka "Duke" Ellington aka "King of the Keys" was born in 1899 in Washington, DC to J.E. and Daisy and went on to become famous for his piano playing. This animated DVD gives a brief biography of "Duke" Ellington, and later in the DVD a biography of Ella Fitzgerald, using beautiful color illustrations and engaging narration. We learn that Edward Kennedy Ellington was more interested in baseball than in learning how to play the piano. Later he became intrigued by the piano. Eventually, "Duke" played in a band called the Washingtonians and he played in Harlem's Cotton Club. Watching this DVD you will learn more interesting facts about the life of "Duke" Ellington. Also on this DVD is the brief biography of Ella Fitzgerald, also known as the "Queen of Scat." Ella Fitzgerald wanted to become a dancer, yet there were no dance schools for her to attend in Yonkers, New York. When you watch this DVD you will learn how she became a famous singer and you'll have an opportunity to listen to her smooth, lovely voice. In 1935 she was signed as a singer, a featured singer, with the Harlem Orchestra House. You'll hear about which college crowd Ella had to impress to gain the position of singer in an orchestra as well as find out who Benny Goodman was, and why he was important to Ella Fitzgerald's biography. (Yale.) As you watch this DVD you will find out who Chip Webb was and what happened to Ella at the Savoy Club. Many worthwhile facts are presented about the life of Ella Fitzgerald on this DVD. This DVD is good for use in the classroom or in an after-school setting to inform young learners about music history. The DVD is probably appropriate for young learners in 3rd to 5th grade.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 26, 2013

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    Posted January 2, 2013

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