Call Him Jack: The Story of Jackie Robinson, Black Freedom Fighter

Farrar. Sept. 2022. 240p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780374389956.
Gr 6 Up–This engrossing biography of baseball legend Jack Robinson opens with a quote from him in which he states he would choose “first-class citizenship to all of [my] people” over the Baseball Hall of Fame, which aptly frames the focus of this work. Written in a traditional biography format, the narrative covers his life story, following him through childhood, college, military service, family life, his baseball career, and post-retirement civil rights activism and business ventures until his untimely death at age 53. Williams and Long focus most of the narrative on the racism Robinson faced throughout his life, and his many actions to fight discrimination. In his teen years, he and a friend held a successful sit-in at a diner. He also successfully lobbied the Army to become one of the first Black soldiers accepted into the Officer Candidate School. As the man to break the color barrier in MLB, he faced racism on and off the field, often getting more call-outs from umpires than other players, being called Jackie while he preferred Jack, and being told not to fight back against racial insults hurled at him. Upon his retirement, he dove full force into civil rights activism, working with the NAACP, and leading fundraisers while developing a business career. The short chapters move quickly with one captivating story after another. Back matter includes notable “extra innings facts” about Robinson’s life, questions for further discussions, a time line, and extensive notes with sources.
VERDICT Much more than a sports biography, this powerful and stellar work documents Robinson’s place in history as a civil rights hero. Highly recommended for all middle and high school libraries.

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