Several years ago I wrote this book review – I can’t remember for which publication (that didn’t publish it), but since baseball season is right around the corner, I thought it might be useful for any of you moms, dads, aunts, uncles, or grandparents wanting to find a story about a hero. This guy qualifies.
Pride of the
Pirates by Jonah Winter Illustrated by Raul Colon Pittsburgh
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
With just two lines at a time, like gentle raindrops slipping from one tropical flower to another in his beloved Puerto Rico, the progression of the life of Roberto Clemente, and his fever for baseball, is laid out beautifully and simply for us by author Jonah Winter.
As a biography the book doesn’t overburden with times, dates and place names but every essential fact of Clemente’s life as a great, perhaps the greatest, baseball player is presented. We learn of his often imitated pre-game neck move and even how to pronounce his name properly “Roe-BEAR-toe Cleh-MEN-tay.”
As an introduction to biography this is a good choice, especially for young boys. Clemente was the kind of hero parents only wish there were more of today.
The man let nothing overpower his love for the game. Like players of color before him he had to overcome the prejudice of the times by bearing the derision of an all white press. But his dazzling performance on the field contributed greatly to his team’s ability to face down the formidable New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series—and win (I had to Google the date, it’s not in the book).
Raul Colon’s illustrations perfectly accompany the spare text, using watercolor, colored pencil, and litho pencil sketches. Clemente’s tragic, untimely, death is explained within the context of his desire to help the unfortunate victims of an earthquake, adding yet another dimension to the legend of the man who so proudly wore the number 21.
Image: vectorolie Free Digital Photos