Hispanic Star: Roberto Clemente

Roaring Brook. (Hispanic Star: Bk. 1). Sept. 2022. 112p. pap. $5.99. ISBN 9781250828101.
Gr 2-6 The first entry in a series centering celebrated Latinx figures, this biography presents the life of Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente in an accessible chapter book format. Born in Puerto Rico in 1934, he was drafted the minor leagues after his high school graduation. Clemente often felt like he didn’t fit in as a Black player who spoke Spanish. He suffered early on in his career, navigating Jim Crow laws in the South, encountering prejudiced journalists, coaches, and players who made fun of his accent, and dealing with personal tragedies. But he never stopped giving back—he used his earnings to help his family and aid in humanitarian efforts in Latin American countries. Eventually, he became the first Latinx player selected as the most valuable player in the National League. Tragically, Clemente died at 38 in an ­airplane crash en route to ­Nicaragua where he was going in an earthquake relief effort. He was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame only two days after his death and was awarded with the first-ever Presidential Citizens Medal. Each chapter sports two to four of Gutierrez’s pencil drawings, adding interest to the narrative and breaking up the text. Quotations open up each chapter, and sidebars offer context through subjects like colorism in Puerto Rico, baseball terms, and historical events. The narrative is arranged thematically instead of chronologically, which might confuse some readers but makes the work more engaging. A sense of warmth and pride radiates through this telling, and even non-sports fans will be drawn in.
VERDICT A well-crafted and accessible biography series opener for all young readers’ nonfiction shelves.

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