Play Ball, Jackie!

Gr 2—5—This book offers a child's view of Jackie Robinson's first game as a Brooklyn Dodger on Major League Baseball's Opening Day April 15, 1947, a day former Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig referred to as "baseball's proudest moment." Matty attends the event with his father, who got the tickets free from a disgruntled colleague. As they watch, Matty's dad recalls that his father, an Italian-American immigrant, also faced prejudice. As the game goes on, the boy hears some people heckling Robinson but by the final inning, he proudly sports an "I'm for Jackie" button and declares, "I wouldn't have missed Jackie Robinson for anything." Morse's graphic illustrations capture the fans' excitement along with the on-field drama. Text and illustrations add historical context: as the boy muses that "Times seemed to be changing," the illustrations depict African-American World War II soldiers, and a newspaper headline refers to the Tuskegee Airmen. An author's note offers an overview of Robinson's life and career. This well-crafted book deserves a place on the growing shelf of books designed to introduce readers to Robinson, including Sharon Robinson's Jackie's Gift (Viking, 2010) and Testing the Ice (Scholastic, 2009) and Myron Uhlberg's Dad, Jackie, and Me (Peachtree, 2005).—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Dynamic drawings of players and fans are the stars of this story about a boy who's able to attend Jackie Robinson's first Major League game only because his father's colleague doesn't want to see an African American play for the Dodgers. There's some heavy-handedness to the text, but the book provides a decent entry for discussions about prejudice.

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