BROTHERS AT BAT
The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team
by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Steven Salerno
Clarion Books, 2012
Picture Book Biography
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Acerra family had sixteen children, including twelve ball-playing boys. It was the 1930s, and many families had lots of kids. But only one had enough to field a baseball team . . . with three on the bench! The Acerras were the longest-playing all-brother team in baseball history. They loved the game, but more important, they cared for and supported each other and stayed together as a team. Nothing life threw their way could stop them.
Full of action, drama, and excitement, this never-before-told true story is vividly brought to life by Audrey Vernick’s expert storytelling and Steven Salerno’s stunning vintage-style art.
I am delighted to see more and more picture book biographies being published. This makes it so much easier to share biographies with younger children. At the same time, picture book biographies have to be carefully done in order to provide enough information without going overboard. I mean how do you provide just enough information to help the reader get an idea of what the person was like, without getting bogged down in details? I firmly believe that it is an art form. Picture books are an art in and of themselves, but picture book biographies require an even more careful hand because the characters are real. Audrey Vernick does a fantastic job of this in Brothers at Bat.
Vernick provides enough information to give the reader a taste of what the people are like, without losing her focus on a baseball team made up of only brothers. Sixteen children, twelve of whom were boys, I can only admire their parents. I appreciated the small touches that made the family seem so real, things like the slam, slam, slam of the door as the boys raced out to play. The sharing of beds, the individual portraits that show the familial similarity but also individual differences, all added to the story.
The illustrations are gorgeous and appealing. I'm always amazed when illustrators can create faces from a few lines and shapes. Salerno does a great job of this.
If you are looking for more great picture book biographies, I highly recommend this one.
Be sure to check out the rest of the Nonfiction Monday entries! Lots of great nonfiction recommendations.