Now and then we get a lovely and loving review for a client's book and, greedy people that we are sometimes, we wonder why such a good review isn't a starred one.
Here’s a fun and true story to start out the baseball season. Vernick relates the history of the Acerra family’s 16 children, consisting of 12 boys who formed their own semiprofessional baseball team in Long Branch, NJ, during the 1930s. Their dad was their coach and biggest fan. The team is honored in the Baseball Hall of Fame for being the all-time longest-playing all-brother team in baseball history. The author exhibits good humor by pointing out individual boys’ distinguishing characteristics such as Charlie, the slow runner who “hit a ball nearly out of the park, but only made it to second.” There is a retro feel to Salerno’s illustrations done in black crayon, gouache, watercolor, and pastel, with digital color added. Shades of green, blue, and turquoise augment the outdoor scenes. Readers will laugh out loud as they spot one brother out the bedroom window at night running with toilet paper in hand to their three-seater outhouse. This story sends out positive vibes of a family who sticks together, yet couples the tale with sorrowful times as well. A delight not to miss.
We found out about the missing star, when later that very same day, Audrey's editor Jennifer Greene emailed a review from Booklist, indicating it was BROTHERS AT BAT's "third" star. We knew about one in PW a couple of weeks earlier; but what was the second one? Ah-ha! There really had been a star on that SLJ review after all! What a wonderful surprise!
Here's the Booklist review.
In a 1930s New Jersey town, one family liked baseball so much that they made their own team. It wasn’t that difficult. The Acerras had 16 children—12 of them boys. For 22 years straight, an Acerara played baseball in the local high school. In 1938, the oldest nine formed their own semi-pro team. With an age range of more than 20 years among the boys, there was always another Acerra coming up. Vernick, who interviewed the surviving members of the family, incorporates their remembrances into this very special exhibition of family loyalty and love of sports. The narrative takes them through their time on the field, the dissolution of the team when six of the guys went off to WW II (and all came home safely), and a team resurgence after the war. With plenty of highs (winning seasons) and a couple of lows (one brother lost an eye when a bunt went bad), the story rolls along easily. Best of all, though, is Salerno’s fantastic art. Using a retro style that combines the look of 1950s TV advertising (think “speedy Alka Seltzer”) and the exuberance of comic-book art, the pictures are full of vitality. The author’s and illustrator’s end note provides interesting context for this story of brotherly—and baseball—love.
Three stars and three hurrahs for Audrey!