Review of the Week

Vernick, Audrey. Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team.  Steven Salerno, Illus. Non-fic.  Clarion/Houghton, 2012. $16.99. 978-0-547-38557-0.  OUTSTANDING.  GRADES 1-5.

Sleeping two to a bed, the twelve Acerra brothers loved playing baseball and formed their own team in New Jersey back in the 1930s. WW II interupted their games, as half the brothers went off to war, but they won four out of six post-war league championships until they drifted away to their various careers.

With pertinent details that children will find interesting, the concise, informative narrative successfully telescopes their history, concluding not with the Baseball Hall of Fame as expected, but with their bus breakdown on the way home after the ceremony. The graceful description of that family pick-up game brings their story to a fitting finale. Created with black crayon, gouache, watercolor, pastel, and Adobe Photoshop color, the retro illustrations perfectly reflect the period in detail and art style. A few of the pre-batting helmet baseball scenes are reminiscent of old bubble gum comics, but the comics were never this accomplished. Well-placed pictures move the eye smoothly through the narrative and through the years. Notes by author and artist are appended as is a small team photograph. Boffo fare for baseball fans, this is also an excellent introduction to family stories, non-fiction style.

Linda Perkins, Independent

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