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Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates    by Jonah Winter & Raul Colon order for
Roberto Clemente
by Jonah Winter
Order:  USA  Can
Aladdin, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's an inspiring story, Jonah Winter's Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Raul Colon's illustrations are full of action, energy and determination, matching this tribute to a man called by some fans 'the greatest player who ever lived.' An Author's Note at the back of the book summarizes Roberto Clemente's life, emphasizing that his baseball exploits are only half the story.

Clemente is introduced as a boy in Puerto Rico 'who had very little / but a fever to play / and win at baseball.' He makes a bat from a guava tree branch, a glove from a coffee bean sack, and uses empty soup cans for batting practice. After achieving professional status in Puerto Rico, he is invited to play in the major leagues in the United States - for the Pittsburgh Pirates, then in last place! Clemente's first appearance is 'like a jolt of electricity ... He had style. He was cool.' And he went on to bigger and bigger successes.

The author continues to tell a tragic tale of a hero's death while trying to help Central American earthquake victims. But he says 'The story doesn't end here. / When someone like Roberto dies, / his spirit lives on / in the hearts of all he touched' - in the sports world and through the charities he started.

Though on one hand, this book about Roberto Clemente is another rags-to-sports-superstar story, on the other, it's a remarkable account of someone who put his all into every endeavor, believing that 'If you don't try as hard as you can ... you are wasting your life.'

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