cover image Satchel Paige

Satchel Paige

Lesa Cline-Ransome. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81151-7

This first collaboration between a husband-and-wife team offers an informal, anecdotal profile of Leroy ""Satchel"" Paige, one of the all-time great baseball players of the Negro League, the first black pitcher to play in the major leagues and the first black inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The author's style is conversational and flavorful: after explaining that Paige, the seventh of 12 children, earned money for his family by toting travelers' luggage at the train depot, she writes, ""When dimes weren't enough, Leroy took to stealing. And when he could no longer run fast enough, it was stealing that caught him."" Sent to reform school at age 12, Paige joined its baseball team and was thrilled to encounter ""real leather balls (not the ones your mama made with a rock and a rag) and real wooden bats, too."" Kids will enjoy her occasional hyperbole: ""[When he stood on the mound], his foot looked to be about a mile long, and when he shot [the ball] into the air, it seemed to block out the sun. Satch's arm seemed to stretch on forever, winding, bending, twisting."" Ransome's (Let My People Go) tightly edited, boldly hued oil paintings capture the on-field prowess as well as the personality of the quick-witted, feisty Paige. More sculptural than kinetic, they express the qualities of a man who often seemed larger than life. This vivid book is a fitting tribute to a baseball hero. Ages 6-10. (Jan.)