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You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  294 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
In this striking picture book biography, an old-timer tells us what made Sandy Koufax such an amazing baseball player. We learn that the beginning of his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers was rocky, that he was shy with his teammates, and experienced discrimination as one of the only Jews in the game. We hear that he actually quit, only to return the next season—different—f ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published February 24th 2009 by Schwartz & Wade
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Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Mmf. Baseball. Symbolic sports of its ilk get all the good press when it comes to children's books. Tiki Barber books aside, if I were to place odds I'd have to say that a full 50% of kids books about sports concentrate on baseball. After all, its fans are inclined to view a regular game as nothing short of epic. Men in a field. Duking it out under a blazing sun. The intermingling of strength and smarts. Yeah. So basically baseball bores me to tears. I'll sit in on a game anytime you like, but t ...more
Steve Holden
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
In picking out baseball books for my week ahead, I was drawn to the cover of this one - as I anticipate my students to be on Monday. There were a few in this series about baseball greats. Surprisingly, I never heard of the series! However, it's a great approach to biographies for young students. I really like the layout, narration, and presentation. It's easy to get into, you learn a lot about the player, and for those that want to learn more about baseball and the stats, opportunities are provi ...more
Kelley Tackett
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great book!
Christine Jensen
Booklist 2009 Editors Choice Review
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Oct 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
I loved this book and couldn’t wait to share it with the children at my school. As I’d expected, they loved the cover. They also loved the way the illustrator used gold on the pictures.

The story was a little too hard for them. They were confused with the author’s use of first person plural. They did not get the way the author used the vernacular voice to tell the story. They needed more background information about Koufax.

But they loved that it was about a baseball player. They liked the voice
Elissa Schaeffer
Jun 09, 2014 rated it liked it
I had heard of Sandy Koufax prior to this book. I could tell you he was something to do with baseball and that's about all. I may not have even gotten the sport right, but I knew he was an athlete.

Now, however, I can tell you that Koufax earned his star status as a Dodger through hard, hard work. He was Jewish, and proud to be so in a time and place that didn't necessarily accept him. He had lots of potential as a youth but once he made it to the major leagues he didn't get the chance to really
Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: info-bios
Starting with the line, "You gotta be kidding! You never heard of Sandy Koufax?" the author outlines the career of Sandy Koufax in a kid-friendly voice. The author was very aware of his intended audience and used improper grammar and structure and instead wrote as if he was in a conversation. It never felt like I was sitting down to leran. Rather, I read a story in which many facts and bits of information were intergrated. In talking about his sudden retirement, the author states, "You should se ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Weird drawing ways
Tyler Shank
Plot Summary/Personal Response: Sandy Koufax grew up in Brooklyn and as a child there were two things that stuck out about him. One he was Jewish, and two he was incredible at every sport he tried. By the age of 19 he had a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers pitching, however, the beginning of his career did not go so well. He struggled his first few years of his career actually, the organization was moved to Los Angeles and it wasn't until 1961 that he began to shine. For the next five years he ...more
Margo Tanenbaum
Jun 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and am old enough to remember Sandy Koufax, but clearly there are many young people, including baseball fans, who have never heard of him. This picture book biography seeks to bring Koufax front and center for young fans. The book opens as follows:

You gotta be kidding! You never heard of Sandy Koufax?! He was only the greatest lefty who ever pitched in the game of baseball.

The narrator is an unidentified Dodgers teammate who talks in an informal, folksy, st
Robin Gaphni
Aug 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a big, beautiful book that does an admirable job describing one of the true enigmas of baseball-Sandy Koufax. Kids, especially baseball fans, will love reading the story of how Sandy Koufax became one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball history. You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! is a great gift for a sports lover.

The story is told in a conversational way by an unnamed person (teammate?), presumably connected with the Dodger organization. The style of writing is accessible and dr
Aug 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Jordan
Wow!! I can't believe how much I liked this book -- a baseball book! Nothing wrong with baseball -- I just didn't expect to be this enthralled. Of course, it's the cover of this picture book bio that grabs passersby -- a lenticular moving image that shows the full range of motion of one of Koufax's famous left-handed pitches. But the inside illustrations, complete with shiny gold (gold!) are also superb. They are graceful, expressive, and very layered and textured while retaining a simplicity of ...more
Derek Slagle
Nov 03, 2014 rated it liked it
You never heard of Sand Koufax? was an interesting book to read. This books starts out talking about his slow start in his professional career and struggles he faced being a Jew baseball player. The book then progressively shows his success after he almost gave up playing baseball professionally. This book is an picture book biography that could be used in a text set about baseball or talking about historic problems Jews have faced.
This book uses word, pictures and facts on the side about Sandy
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This book is about one of the greatest baseball players who ever played--a left handed pitcher for the Dodgers named Sandy Koufax, who also happened to be Jewish. There weren't many Jewish ball players back in the 60s, and he endured both bigotry and verbal abuse. What I really liked about this book was the story of Koufax's perseverance and resolve. He doesn't begin his career as a star pitcher; he has to learn to relax and listen to his body and his instincts, instead of negative messages arou ...more
Mar 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Grades 2-6 (and baseball lovers of all ages!)
This book came to me in a publisher's box, and with the eye-catching holographic cover of a pitcher, how could I not pick it up? One shouldn't judge a book by its cover, of course, but go right ahead in this instance! The colloquial tone of the book sucks you right in, and it holds you there for all the twists and turns of Koufax's story. Some stories were familiar to me (the Yom Kippur/World series story) and some were not (such as the fact that he quit at the end of a season before he was a st ...more
Beth Nieman
Feb 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Andre Carrilho's stylish artwork captured my attention as soon as I picked up this picture book biography. It's full of the same graceful movement that characterized Sandy Koufax on the pitcher's mound. The drawings remind me of the spare and beautiful caracitures of Albert Hirschfeld.

The text, by Jonah Winter, evokes a Brooklyn accent, and would make a great read-aloud story. It mentions that Koufax was one of just a few Jewish players and that he experienced some prejudice, but the main focus
What a beautiful trip down baseball memory lane in a gorgeous picture book, in the cadence of a time and place long ago. "You never heard of of Sandy Koufax?!" He was only the greatest lefty who ever pitched in the game of baseball." I cannot begin to describe the sheer joy of reading this book aloud to myself, but not before my dear husband read it to me first, excitement in his voice and happiness in his face as read about one of the greats of baseball, a gentleman amongst the giants of the sp ...more
Corey Lynch
Nov 03, 2014 added it
Shelves: biography
This story was a biography of famed baseball pitcher Sandy Koufax told from the standpoint of someone who followed his career. The story covers Koufax's life from a young athlete in school to his impressive career as a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and retirement from baseball. The book has a lot of good information not only about Koufax but about the sport of baseball in general. It would be a good selection to use in a classroom to teach about sports and the difficulties and skills that ...more
Sep 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
In this striking picture book biography, an old-timer tells us what made Sandy Koufax so amazing. We learn that the beginning of his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers was rocky, that he was shy with his teammates, and experienced discrimination as one of the only Jews in the game. We hear that he actually quit, only to return the next season--different--firing one rocket after another over the plate. We watch him refuse to play in the 1965 World Series because it is a Jewish high holy day. And we ...more
Luke Borsody
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! is a wonderful example of determination and dedication for young children. This is book teaches kids about the hardships of doing things you love, and how you have to work at your craft to truly master it. Jonah Winter also shows children the value of having a strong will like Sandy Koufax. The book shows how at first he struggled at pitching, like anyone would. By the end of his story, after working hard he hurdles over all of his obstacles and achieves his goa ...more
Oct 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: baseball, biography
I was thrilled when a baseball biography landed on the North Carolina Children's Book Award list for the year. But I have to admit, I judt didn't really get this one. I mean, I've heard of Sandy Koufax, and I'm thrilled to get his name out to a new generation of fans. Or, for that matter, to build a new generation of baseball fans. But this book just didn't work for me. The unnamed first person narrator concept did not work for me. I didn't care for the art. I found the side bars with extra info ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens, nonfiction
Two things really lowered this book in my eyes. The first one being the most important: the author writes Sandy Koufax "was like the Greek god of baseball." Anyone with the slightest knowledge of history and/or Judaism would know how offensive that is. The amazing part is that this is written 2 pgs after describing Koufax's famous refusal to play during High Holy Days. The second thing that I find bothersome is that some of the stats are described as taken from Wikipedia. Baseball stats can be v ...more
Jan Rue
Jun 10, 2013 added it
Shelves: ed-689-books
Written by Jonah Winter (2009) & illustrated by Andre Carrilho. It is a great biography picture book about Sandy Kougax life as a baseball player. The illustrations are made with graphite on paper, with color and texture added using Adobe Photoshop. Sandy was the greatest left handed pitcher for the years 1961-1966. No one could hit off of him, even Mickey Mantle. The author tells the story as if he is sitting right in front of you, talking to you. It is a great story and I believe even girl ...more
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: k-2, 3-5
This non-fiction picture book about Sandy Koufax uses slang (instead of proper grammar) and interesting pictures to help bring to life the biography/memoir of Sandy's baseball career. I was a little put off by the poor grammar which sounds more like someone who is uneducated is talking to me instead of me reading a book. Although, it is annoying to read at first, I think it is a technique that helps biographies seem less boring and more real. It can entice children to enjoy biographies a little ...more
Things I like about this book &/or Sandy Koufax:
1. Magic Motion cover. Awesome. Reminds of me of Crackerjack prizes
when I was little.
2. Koufax's religious conviction. Also awesome.
3. The inexplicable change in Koufax's pitching. Wild Man to Ace in
one moment. What caused it? Nobody knows. We don't always get
answers in life, do we?

One Thing I Didn't Like: I wish there had been a photograph of Koufax included, so readers could see how he really looked. No biggie, just something I would
May 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: j-nonfiction
I'm nowhere near as excited by this lenticular cover as some readers are (and probably young readers), but I do like the way Jonah Winter has told the Koufax story, stressing his early years of failure in the big leagues, his physical pain, his Jewish identity, and his sudden retirement. The "box score" statistics are clever, the illustrations striking in their limited palette and distorted perspective, and there is a source given for the statistics if not the biographical information. A good ch ...more
Carolyn Krecklow
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow! One of the best biographies written for kids I have ever read that was a real page turner.
Love the voice. I hear the Brooklyn accent of the narrator- Jewish too!
And the illustrations are so hard hitting like the opposing teams could hit if Sandy were not on the mound.
Bonus: Glossary in the back of Baseball terms.
Clever side bars of Baseball statistics.
With a disclaimer at the end about statistics being “interpreted differently by different fans and scholars.”
Sam Bloom
Mar 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
I love that I read this at the beginning of March, as I gear up for the coming baseball season... perfect timing! Winter paints an even, entertaining, and interesting look at one of the best Jewish athletes of all time. Too bad Koufax had to play for the $#$#@@# Dodgers. Despite this shortcoming, this is a great biography. Andre Carrilho's illustrations are excellent - very comic-bookish, with bright metallic silvers, golds and blues.
Amy Carr
Mar 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is the incredible story of a Dodgers baseball player (pitcher) named Sandy Koufax. The story is told through the voice of a fellow Dodgers teammate and I loved how the author really makes you feel like you are listening to a New Yorker tell the story (remember the Dodgers started in Brooklyn, New York...). The story is remarkable but the illustrations are fascinating...very unique style. I really loved this story and my boys were fascinated by it!!!!
Pam  Page
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I knew little about Sandy Koufax before reading this book and found this book very informative and interesting! Koufax was a puzzle to many people which adds to the allure of the story. I liked the little "stat" boxes interspersed throughout the book and even baseball fans will likely learn from these as they are titled (i.e.: most famous Jewish players who began their careers before 1960). The back of the book offers a glossary of baseball terms and online resources.
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