Hey! I'm an old guy. Count me as one who heard all about Willie Mays back
before the current President was even born.
What a fun book this is!
"Birmingham, Alabama. 1941. A kid with his ear glued to the radio.
"'We interrupt this program for an important announcement. Joe DiMaggio
has just homered off Red Sox pitcher Dick Newsome, extending his hitting
streak to a record-breaking forty-five games.'
"As the story goes, a little boy named Willie Mays had himself a hero.
Willie told his pop, 'I wanna be the next Joe DiMaggio.'"
The two-page spread from which this quote is taken is amazing! The young
boy we know to be Willie Mays is sitting backward in a chair, garbed in
overalls, his face right in front of a big old-fashioned radio. It is such a
great beginning to the story. Every page turn thereafter builds up the legend
that is Hall of Famer Willie Mays, arguably the greatest baseball player
This was a guy who was playing pro ball at age 15 (when Major League
Baseball was still segregated), a guy who was as good defensively as he was at
the plate and on the base paths (and still, after all these years, holds
records to prove it), a guy who had unbelievable talent and gave it his all -
"Mays tried so hard he sometimes passed out right there on the field!
They'd have to carry him off on a stretcher. And then, after games, he'd go
back home to Harlem and play stickball on St. Nicholas Place with the
neighborhood kids. It was like he couldn't stop! The Polo Grounds, the streets --
he didn't care where he was playin'."
Down in San Francisco, AT&T Park -- where the Giants play these days -- is
located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza. I love wandering around there. I grew up
outside of New York, but my heart as an adult has long belonged to northern
California, and so Mays has actually been my greatest hometown hero on
YOU NEVER HEARD OF WILLIE MAYS?! is an exciting story about a really good
guy. I really like the addition to many of the spreads of some facts
and/or stats relating to Mays's career.
But what I love, above all, is the portrayal of the world in which this
story takes place. From the smokestacks of Birmingham; to the old-fashioned
bus driving through the South at night; to the water towers up above the
buildings in Harlem; Terry Widener's ability to share the world of Mays, as
well as depict the grace and determination that was the gifted athlete Willie
Mays, makes this a delight to read.
ISBN: 978-0-375-86844-3 40 pages. Ages 4 & up.
Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, Librarian, California USA See more of Richie's Picks at: http://richiespicks.com/