You Nev­er Heard of Sandy Koufax?!

Jonas Win­ter; Adré Car­ril­ho, illus.
  • Review
By – January 19, 2012
This pic­ture book for old­er read­ers tells the sto­ry of famed Jew­ish base­ball pitch­er Sandy Koufax. Nar­rat­ed by a fic­tion­al, unseen, old-timer” who played along­side Koufax on the Dodgers, the book men­tions few details of his life either before or after his major league career. The nar­ra­tor tells his tale in an exag­ger­at­ed Brook­lyn accent, full of slang, gram­mar mis­takes, and mis­pro­nun­ci­a­tions. (Exam­ples: Back when Koufax was a kid, growin’ up Jew­ish in Brook­lyn, no one woul­da guessed what he was about to become.” And, He don’t look wor­ried.”) The strik­ing illus­tra­tions are car­i­ca­ture-like car­toon draw­ings main­ly in shades of gray and metal­lic gold, with some red and blue high­lights that will sure­ly appeal to chil­dren. The eye-catch­ing cov­er was designed by a spe­cial process with three dif­fer­ent images imprint­ed on plas­tic so that it appears to be mov­ing. The book men­tions that Koufax was some­times the tar­get of anti-Semit­ic com­ments, and retells the well-known inci­dent when he refused to pitch the first game in the 1965 World Series on Yom Kip­pur because, if you’re Jew­ish, you ain’t sup­posed to work on a High Holy Day.” Details of Koufax’s career will be of inter­est to base­ball fans, and the book’s mes­sage of per­se­ver­ing in spite of fail­ure is an inspir­ing one. But, it’s hard to imag­ine this book appeal­ing to a child who doesn’t already have a fas­ci­na­tion for sports his­to­ry or base­ball sta­tis­tics. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 7 – 11.

Read­ing Guide

Hillary Zana has a BA and teach­ing cre­den­tial from Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty. She was a day school librar­i­an for many years and has writ­ten many Hebrew text­books avail­able through Behrman House Pub­lish­ers. She cur­rent­ly teach­es Eng­lish and his­to­ry in the Los Ange­les pub­lic school sys­tem and is a Nation­al Cer­ti­fied teacher.

Discussion Questions