Today Biblio Links welcomes back author Audrey Vernick!
Her latest picture book, Brothers At Bat, releases into the world today. Here’s the blurb from Houghton Mifflin:
The Acerra family had sixteen children, including twelve ball-playing boys. It was the 1930s, and many families had lots of kids. But only one had enough to field a baseball team . . . with three on the bench! The Acerras were the longest-playing all-brother team in baseball history. They loved the game, but more important, they cared for
and supported each other and stayed together as a team. Nothing life threw their way could stop them. Full of action, drama, and excitement, this never-before-told true story is vividly brought to life by Audrey Vernick’s expert storytelling and Steven Salerno’s stunning vintage-style art.
I can’t help opening my review of Brothers At Bat with these words from Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr.:
“I was lucky to play in the big leagues with my brother as a teammate and my dad as our manager. It was a very special time. The story of the Acerra brothers brought those memories back. It is a wonderful illustration of what a great game baseball is and how it brings families together on many different levels. BROTHERS AT BAT is a story any baseball fan will enjoy and one that we all should know.”
I love, love, love picture books that have layers that allow me to differentiate for kids of different ages. On the surface, this is a baseball book, a book about teamwork and family and making it through tough times with the support of people who love you–which would be more than enough for one lesson plan. But I can also branch off and discuss some of the deeper issues with older kids, like World War II (six Acerra brothers went off to fight and all came home), roles of women (the four Acerra sisters didn’t play baseball) and the age of modern technology (When the family is honored at the 1939 World Fair for being the largest family in New Jersey, they flew on an airplane for the very first time).
Like any picture book worth its salt, the illustrations add another layer to the story, and Steven Salerno’s art does this spectacularly. The retro-style art gives readers a feel for the setting–both time and place. Primary students everywhere learn about “Then and Now” in Social Studies, and this book is stuffed full of things that kids could reference when comparing the first half of the 20th century with how we live now–including cars, clothing, and, yes, even outhouses.
I asked Audrey about how kids might connect with Brothers At Bat.
Biblio Links: A student walks into my library and I think, That kid needs a copy of Brothers At Bat. Who is this kid?
Audrey Vernick: This kid might think he doesn’t like to read, because he’s really into sports. Or maybe it’s a kid who thinks history is boring. It might also be a child from a big family or an only child who wonders what it would be like to have more than a dozen siblings.
Biblio Links: If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see?
Audrey Vernick: If you happened to walk in at the time all the characters are introduced, you might see some chins on the ground from the jaw-dropping fact that this family had sixteen children.
Biblio Links: Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?
Audrey Vernick: There’s more information on my website,
Coming soon to the website: Discussion guide AND video clip of the Acerra brothers playing baseball!!
My BROTHERS AT BAT appearances include these big-ticket stops:
3/31 Books of Wonder, NYC, with illustrator Steven Salerno (part of panel discussion on baseball books)
4/12 Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY, 1 PM talk followed by book-signing
6/9 Eric Carle Museum, Amherst, MA, Children’s Book Festival: Baseball Bonanza
Thanks so much, Natalie!!
Check out Audrey’s other picture books, Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? and Teach Your Buffalo To Play The Drums, picture book biography She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story and middle grade novel Water Balloon.
Click here for home run reviews (including THREE starred reviews!) of Brothers At Bat.
The Nitty Gritty~
Publisher: Clarion Book (Houghton Mifflin)
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Interest Level: Ages 4 and up
Number of Pages: 40