Reviews for Henry Aaron's Dream

Booklist Reviews 2010 February #2
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. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
With understated, unfussy cadences, Tavares describes young Hank Aaron's major-league dream. After a brief stint in the Negro Leagues, Aaron signed a minor-league contract with the Braves but faced brutal racism in the South. In a final illustration, Tavares's skillful combination of watercolor, ink, and pencil shows Aaron in his first major-league game. An author's note and Aaron's career stats are included. Bib. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #2
With understated, unfussy cadences, Tavares describes a young Hank Aaron who "didn't have a bat, / so he'd swing a broom handle / or a stick / or whatever he could find" as he daydreamed of playing baseball in the majors. Despite his father's warning ("Ain't no colored ballplayers"), Aaron headed daily to play with a real bat in the new Carver Park, a baseball diamond in Mobile, Alabama, designated "Colored Only." On April 15, 1947 -- the only full date Tavares includes in the main text -- Aaron's world was rocked. That day, Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. This was the confirmation thirteen-year-old Aaron needed: someday his own big-league dreams could become reality. After a brief stint in the Negro Leagues, Aaron signed a minor-league contract with the Braves; he was on his way up. But he, like Robinson, faced brutal racism while playing with his new white teammates "in southern cities / where black people and white people / weren't even allowed to play checkers together." As the picture-book biography draws to a close, a final full-spread illustration shows Aaron in his first major-league regular season game. Tavares's skillful combination of watercolor, ink, and pencil shows the ballplayer in a confident pose, hands on his hips, in his Braves uniform, as in the background African American fans cheer wildly from jam-packed bleachers. An author's note, Aaron's career stats, and a bibliography are included in the backmatter. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 February #2
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
Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

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 Cnigger.' 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.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 January

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

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