Fresh off a terrific launch day at none other than the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY (watch her blog for a recap and photos), coming off of reviews in the New York Times and USA Today and with three starred reviews already in place, it seemed things could not get much better for Audrey Vernick's Brothers at Bat (no jinx!)—and yet here we are with the news that Shelf Awareness has bestowed star number four for this wonderful book!
This funny, often moving picture book about an actual family of 12 baseball-playing brothers proves that fact can be stranger than fiction.
Audrey Vernick (She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story) tells the story of the Acerra brothers, who played semi-pro baseball longer than any of the other 29 baseball teams made up entirely of brothers. Steve Salerno (Bebé Goes Shopping) re-creates the past with panache and casts a nostalgic spell. In a brilliant stroke, he portrays the dozen brothers in birth order, a handy reference as Vernick tells their larger story.
The author enumerates the boys' nicknames and unique talents. The oldest, Anthony, earns the name "Poser" because he'd stand at the plate "as if his baseball-card photo were being taken." Brother number six, Jimmy, "had a knuckleball people still talk about." They banded together at a low point, when the fourth brother, Alfred, lost an eye at the plate, and the other 11 helped him practice enough to reclaim his Acerra uniform. Six of the brothers fought in World War II, and all six returned to play the game. One of the most moving images shows Mrs. Acerra standing on the front porch to welcome one of her sons home.
In the space of 40 brief pages, Vernick and Salerno tell a tale of brotherhood and teamwork, both on and off the baseball field. And although they played for passion and not accolades, they got one from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. For those who love baseball, history and family stories, this book hits a home run.--Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness
Discover: A stranger-than-fiction true story of 12 baseball-playing brothers who embody the concept of teamwork both on and off the field.
Huge congratulations, Audrey!