In honor of the new season, I will be posting a few quick interviews.
Clemente by Willie Perdomo is a great introduction to Roberto Clemente. The author was kind enough to agree to answer a few questions.
How many baseball books did you read for research purposes?
Not many. Most of the sources are listed in the back of the book. I researched the stats and the speech he made in Spanish after winning the world series. Everything else was in the voice of little Clemente.
2 One fact about Clemente or the game of baseball that you wished you were able to fit in the book?
I can't think of any. I didn't want to get too biographical with the text. I wanted to highlight little Clemente's voice and enthusiasm.
3 Picture book authors run the risk of be paired with an illustrator, whose style doesn't enhance the text. Thankfully that didn't happen to Clemente. Bryan Collier is an award winning illustrator and his wonderful illustrations fit the text perfectly. When did you know you'd be paired with Collier?
At this point in my very short children's lit career, I've been lucky in that Collier has been the go-to artist for my work.
4 What is it about baseball fans and baseball books? ( I am not judging. I also get baseball book fever. Looking forward to reading The Baseball by Zack Hample)
Fundamentally, we are always on the lookout for that heroic moment. Baseball provides those moments. Books provide insight and context for those moments.
5. Who is your favorite team?
If it's Mets vs. Yankees, I'm picking the Mets.
Willie, thank you so much for your time. (Go Mets) Clemente is a beautiful biography and perfect for anyone who loves the game of baseball.
The boy in the story is named after Clemente. His parents tell him about his namesake. The family lives in The Bronx where Roberto Clemente was rey. His father is president of the greatest fans of Roberto Clemente club.
"He'll take out his baseball card collection
and pull all his mint condition Clementes,
and then he'll start calling Clemente,
I mean really calling him,
like he was try like he was trying to talk
to the ghost of Roberto Clemente."
It's us, tu gente!
Prince of the baseball diamante,
Puerto Rican prince Clemente,
Hall of fame Clemente"
Perdomo text is informative, lyrical, visual and fun. Sometimes a little flair is expected when talking about great baseball players or plays. Perdomo gives the reader exactly that.
He also lets the reader see all sides of Clemente - the player, the son who when interviewed after winning the World Series spoke Spanish first for his parents, and the man who tried to help Nicaraqua after an earthquake. The author inculdes a great Roberto Clemente timeline in the back
I love Robert Collier's artistic style. It was a perfect fit for this biography. In his notes Collier mentions the medium he used.
"I created the watercolor and collage images of Roberto in action in multiple repeated layers to express the speed, power, impact, and sound he embodied when playing baseball"
Perdomo and Collier have come together to create wonderful biography on Roberto Clemente. Baseball fans of all ages will love it