Reviews for You Never Heard of Willie Mays?!


Booklist Reviews 2012 September #1
*Starred Review* Winter follows up You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! (2009), a Booklist Top of the List--Youth Nonfiction winner, with an ebullient look at another groundbreaking baseballer. Winter's squirming-in-his-seat excitement gives this abbreviated bio the feel of a baseball card-wielding kid slapping his forehead in disbelief: "You never heard of Willie Mays?! THE Willie Mays?! Oh, geez, where to begin?" How about here: Mays is a gangly lad in Alabama who idolizes Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, even though blacks aren't allowed to play in Joe's league--"craziest rule there ever was." Mimicking Joe's techniques, Willie joins the recently integrated New York Giants at 20, lifting the floundering club to new heights before a nation that must finally admit that baseball's best player is black. Text boxes offer up mind-numbing stats and fearless conclusions ("Yep, they were better," Winter writes when comparing the Negro League to the pros), but Winter's forte is describing impossible-to-describe plays: "It was hit too far, too hard, and Willie has his back to it--lookin' like he might run smack into the WALL!" Meanwhile, Widener's lumpy, blurry-edged, off-kilter acrylics are perfect for rendering the alternately joyful and fierce Mays as larger than life. The Say Hey Kid had style to spare, and so does this irrepressible book. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
This companion to You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!, lenticular cover and all, focuses on African American baseball great Willie Mays. Readers may well feel they're at the ballpark, witnessing Mays's signature basket catches, his famous over-the-head catch in center field, and his electrifying base stealing, all captured in Widener's dynamic acrylic illustrations. A solid, informative, and entertaining sports picture book.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #1
This companion to You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! (rev. 3/09), lenticular cover and all, focuses on African American baseball great Mays, the "Say Hey Kid." As a twenty-year-old rookie in 1951 playing in his first game in the Polo Grounds, fresh from the Negro Leagues and facing the great Warren Spahn, he blasted a home run over the left-field roof. Mays went on to become a player who was "Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Joe DiMaggio all rolled into one," a player near the top of every key statistical category -- homers, stolen bases, hits, and runs -- even though his baseball career was interrupted by two years of service in the armed forces. Winter's text is narrated by an enthusiastic and admiring New York Giants fan ("You never heard of Willie Mays?! THE Willie Mays?! Oh, geez, where to begin?"), and readers may well feel they're at the ballpark, witnessing Mays's signature basket catches, his famous over-the-head catch in center field, and his electrifying base stealing, all captured in Widener's dynamic acrylic illustrations. Many spreads include baseball ticket-shaped sidebars with information about other ball-playing greats, baseball history, Mays's statistics, and how he stacks up against other players including Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, and Lou Gehrig. A solid, informative, and entertaining sports picture book that reads like a loud cheer from the stands. With a glossary of baseball terms and assorted source notes. dean schneider

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 December #1
The greatest baseball player of all time?! In an unabashedly adulatory bio of New York Giants and later San Francisco Giants and later still New York Mets center fielder, Winter drives his point home. With folksy pen in hand, he rounds the bases and scores in this life of a Negro League and National League star. Mays could run the bases, field his position, hit, win games and wow the crowds. In this companion to You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! (illustrated by André Carrilho, 2009), the author distills a career with great skill. Special attention is given to his legendary plays, the Throw and the Catch, and other spectacular feats, with Winter either paraphrasing or quoting from radio broadcasts. Additional facts are presented in ticket-shaped sidebars. Widener's superb acrylic paintings on chipboard capture every glorious moment, more so than the grainy black-and-white cameras of the time. And the cover?! Mays' powerful swing is reenacted in lenticular movement. Unlike Jackie Robinson, Mays never marched in civil rights protests. He believed that he proved his worth in the ballpark, and Winter's presentation supports this. Say hey! An all-star gem to share with grandparents, parents, children, baseball fans and anyone else. (author's note, career highlights, glossary of baseball terms, online resources) (Picture book/biography. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 December #1

Winter and Widener, who previously teamed up on Steel Town, return with a stellar companion to Winter's equally superb You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! Like its predecessor, this profile of Hall of Famer Mays immediately grabs attention with its lenticular cover; however, it's Mays's on-the-field feats that cement his place in baseball lore, especially that unbelievable catch during the 1954 World Series. Growing up in Birmingham, Ala., Mays "was the kid all the other kids wanted on their team." Before long, his talent is recognized and, at age 15, he got his start in the Negro Leagues. "Suddenly, this teenage kid was makin' more money than his pop," writes Winter in the colloquial voice of a practiced raconteur. "And when, the year after that, the major leagues ended their stupid rule barrin' black guys, there was a ray of hope that one day Willie might play in the majors, like Joe DiMaggio." Widener's smoky, smudgy acrylics project the determination and dedication that took Mays from industrial, segregated Birmingham to the national stage. A must-have for baseball fans. Ages 4-9. (Jan.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 March

Gr 1-3--As an avid baseball fan, Winter has written another picture-book biography similar in style to his popular You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! (Random, 2009). The cover art again uses an eye-catching, lenticular 3-D design, this time showing Mays in three alternate poses. The author extends great praise for his subject and uses excerpts from radio broadcasts of the era to lend accuracy. His tone is casual from his conversational phrasing-"Then like a lotta guys his age, Willie got drafted…"-to the dropping of the final letter "g" for verbs such as "goin'," "countin'," or "fightin'." There are a few distractions from the narrative, such as parenthetical notes that are boxed off at the bottom of many pages. In addition, the author frequently interjects his opinion ("Yep they were better") in reference to the Negro league players compared to the Caucasian major leaguers of that era. Widener's attractive illustrations, rendered in acrylic on chipboard, are painterly and match the mood of the text. One particularly enjoyable page shows Mays on his knees making "The Catch," which is one of the famous moments in his career. Fans of baseball will welcome this newest offering.--Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA

[Page 144]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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