Satchel Paige. By Lesa Cline-Ransome. CD. 21:14 min. Live Oak Media. 2012. CD with hardcover book, ISBN 978-1-4301-1088-0: $29.95; CD with paperback book, ISBN 978-1-4301-1087-3: $18.95
Gr 1-4 -- Leroy Paige was born into a poor family in Mobile, Alabama, around 1906. He earned the nickname "Satchel," while working at Mobile's train depot, carrying satchels for travelers. In his family of 12 children, money was always tight. A talented pitcher, he never considered baseball as a career until he landed in reform school for stealing. A coach suggested he focus on baseball; after that, there was no stopping him. His blend of talent and showmanship propelled him from semi-pro ball to stardom in the Negro Leagues to pitch in the newly integrated Major Leagues, earning a spot in Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame. Baseball's greatest anecdotes usually have an air of tall-tale about them, and Satchel's winning ways and personality make for a biography that is as entertaining as fiction. Imagine facing his famous "bee ball," which would always "be" where he wanted it to be. Lesa Cline-Ransome writes in a folksy manner, and Dion Graham's relaxed Southern voice is a perfect complement, enhanced with sound effects and music. Though long on text, the book's large size and Graham's narration combine to offer children a chance to pore over visual details. Playing in the Negro Leagues was not always a bed of roses, but James Ransome's oil paintings highlight Paige's joi de vivre and joi de baseball. Page-turn signals are optional.
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