So, I'm not an avid baseball fan. When You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! arrived, I didn't expect to connect. Yet, the lenticular cover was compelling as it enabled me to see Andre Carrilho's illustrated Sandy pitch when I opened the cover.
With endpapers of Sandy's baseball card, the story begins. Told from the viewpoint of an old-timer, Sandy's introduced as a leftie who pitched from 1961 to 1966. Illustrating a rocky start where Sandy is frequently benched or is on the mound with unpredictable throws, the story progresses. Amidst difficult performances, he's mocked by others in the field for being Jewish.
Given more time on the mound, he fails and quits the game, only to return in spring. With the bases loaded, there finally is a connection, and Sandy throws his first no-hitter. He's able to relax and let his body perform. "What a thing of beauty that was."
The streak lasts for six years during which he honors a Jewish High Holy Day in the 1965 World Series by sitting out of the game. He eventually retires at the height of his career to protect his body.
So, what connected with me?
* The passion of the narrator created by author Jonah Winter
* The discipline of Sandy as he searched for his game
* How he was mocked for his beliefs and didn't sway
* That he practiced his faith in a public way
* That he knew when to stop for his body's sake
* And the unique illustrations of Andre Carrilho
With a limited pallette, Andre creates an historical time. There's an elegance in the textures, gold use, charcoal renderings and thin red line. A retro-graphic touch and new expression are captured in this work.
No wonder this picture book is garnering starred reviews. Thanks to the author, illustrator, and publisher for bringing to light Sandy Koufax for everyone.
You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!
by Jona Winter
illustrated by Andre Carrilho
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009