cover image Henry Aaron's Dream

Henry Aaron's Dream

Matt Tavares. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-3224-3

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 'nigger.' 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.)