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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Henry Aaron's Dream, written and illustrated by Matt Tavares. Candlewick, Random House. 2010. $22.00 ages 8 and up

"Some white folk called Henry "nigger".
Some even sent him letters, threatening to kill him if he kept playing.
Some fans stopped coming to the games.
Some of the fans who came threw rocks at him.
Pitchers fired fastballs at his head.

Henry didn't understand why they hated him.
All he wanted to do was play baseball.

A glaring 'WHITES ONLY' sign is posted on the baseball field that heralds the beginning of this thoughtful, informative picture book biography of an American baseball icon. Henry Aaron grew up with a dream...he wanted to be a big-league player. His father tried to discourage him but Henry held fast to that dream.

In Mobile, Alabama when Henry was a boy, black kids and white kids were not allowed to play baseball was against the law. There was only one park in the city where 'coloreds' were welcome. So Henry spent his days at Carver Park. He loved playing on a real field. Henry was only thirteen when Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Dodgers...that changed Henry's world. Henry became his biggest fan, and followed his career with keen interest. He admired Robinson's tenacity, his courage in the face of much racial prejudice and his natural ability. He was a worthy mentor for the young dreamer.

With hard work and a willingness to follow his baseball dream wherever it took him, Henry became the best player that he could be. When times got tough, he looked to his hero and remembered that he, too, had faced innumerable obstacles to find success. He did his time playing in the final innings of games and then one day, he saw his name on the starting roster. His play was exemplary and led to his first major league contract. He realized his dream that day and never looked back.

The final pages include an author's note, Henry Aaron's complete and amazing stat form and a further reading list for those who have need to know more than is shared in this wonderful biography for fans of all ages. Way to go, Hank!

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