From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3–The poignancy of two boys who can be friends only at night is revealed brilliantly in both text and rich watercolor art. Willie's dad, a starter in the Negro leagues, expects that his son will pitch in the majors. Abe's Jewish grandfather, a violinist in the old country before World War II, is sure that his grandson will be the next Jascha Heifetz. What neither man knows is that the boys have been sharing their talents across the alley at night. When Abe's grandfather discovers that it's Willie's beautiful music he has been hearing, he invites him to perform at the temple. As Willie's dad, Abe's grandfather, and the two boys walk there, people stare at them, and Willie's dad says, Ignorance comes in as many colors as talent. Nobody wants to sit by Willie and his father in the temple, but the boy is as victorious at the recital as Abe is at the baseball game later that afternoon. Best of all, supported by their loving families, the expectation is that they now can be friends in the light. With lovely art that captures the joy both boys feel about their respective talents, this endearing picture book offers a compelling message about overcoming prejudice.–Alexa Sandmann, Kent State University, OH
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Racial differences keep Abe and Willie apart during the day, but at night they lean out of their bedroom windows and talk together. Willie shows Abe how to pitch a slider, and he proves himself adept at the violin that Abe hands across the alley. Lewis fills out his urban setting with indistinct figures and details for a timeless feel, though text references to Sandy Koufax and Satchel Paige give the background a general fix. Abe turns out to be better at baseball than Willie, and when the lads' secret comes out, it's Willie who gives a recital at the temple, and Abe who takes the sandlot mound. Willie's father makes the point explicit: "Let people stare . . . Ignorance comes in as many colors as talent." Despite some careless detailing (the alley looks too wide for passing a violin, and Willie holds the slider incorrectly), this purposeful tale works well as a similarly themed companion to Jacqueline Woodson's Other Side
(2001), also illustrated by Lewis. John PetersCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved