Friday, March 27, 2009

Children’s Books: You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax? by Jonah Winter, illustrated by André Carrilho

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax? (Schwartz & Wade Books) is a book of astonishing beauty. I think it may be the most gorgeous book for children I’ve ever seen; it’s certainly in the top ten.

Though parents whose children are sports-minded will put this one high on their list, I’m guessing that a good part of the first edition will end up in the hands of book collectors.

This is the first picture book for illustrator André Carrilho, whose work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Harper’s and others. But I predict massive success for this book, leading to other picture books in Carrilho’s future. Or is that merely wishful thinking?

Fortunately, the text lives up to the great expectations resulting from those terrific illustrations. This is the story of baseball great Sandy Koufax, “a guy who finally relaxed enough to let his body do the one thing it was put on this earth to do. And what a thing of beauty that was.”

Author Jonah Winter is becoming the sports writer for the under 11 set. The author of books on Muhammad Ali, Roberto Clemente and two other books about baseball, Winter is also the author of books about the artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. His most recent book, published fall, is called, simply Barak. I’ll let you guess the topic.

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax? is a fantastic book. Interesting and well-shared text, wonderful illustrations and really great design: this is the whole package. It will certainly be among my picks for best of the year.


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