Winter, Jonah. 2009. YOU NEVER HEARD OF SANDY KOUFAX?! Ill. by Andre Carrilho. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375837388 [Suggested Grade Levels K - 3]
With charm and intimacy, Winter sets forth this cozy picture book biography of one of the best ever left-handed pitchers in professional baseball. The narrator is an unnamed teammate who is gently outraged that readers may not know about Koufax and he proceeds to tell of the ups and downs of this amazing Jewish athlete. He speaks in the Brooklyn vernacular of the time with dropped g’s and lots of ain’ts: “Just when you were startin’ to understand him, he’d haul off and throw you a curve.” He respectfully relates Koufax’s religious commitment and awareness of his status as a hero in the Jewish community with an anecdote about the first game of the 1965 World Series when Koufax sits out the game because it happened to fall on a High Holy Day.
The design of the book is gorgeous starting with the lenticular cover of Koufax pitching. The end pages depict baseball card shots of Koufax in Andre Carrilho’s style of caricature which is also used with the characters populating the book. This technique enhances their status to correspond with the narrator’s tone of adoration. An exquisite, limited color palette with Dodger’s blue and red highlight the heavily black-and-white spreads. On each page, Carrilho digitally enhances the illustrations with burnished gold accents. Small boxes containing relevant statistics are found throughout. A glossary of baseball terms is included.
Encourage children to authenticate the statistics either online or in print materials.
By the same author featuring athletes:
Winter, Jonah. ROBERTO CLEMENTE: PRIDE OF THE PITTSBURG PIRATES. ISBN 9780689856433
Winter, Jonah. MUHAMMAD ALI: CHAMPION OF THE WORLD. ISBN 9780375937873
By Cay Geisler