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Across the Alley Hardcover – October 5, 2006

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; 1 edition (October 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399239707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399239700
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 0.4 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #425,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Peters
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jewish Book World Magazine on March 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This beautiful book is perfect for grandparents to enjoy with their grandchildren. Who else could fondly recall the alleys, stoops, and apartment houses where children could lean out of bedroom windows to speak with a friend across the way? References to Sandy Koufax, Satchel Page, Jascha Heifetz, and the Negro Leagues help set the time and place. Artist E.B.Lewis' grainy, sensitive watercolor paintings make this story of breaking stereotypes, irresistible. Like the engaging narrative, the paintings leave a lot of space for the reader to imagine the details. Lewis' free brush strokes are rich and airy at the same time and the images of people are warmly represented. There's a charming, smiling grandpa wearing his yarmulke, full of hope that his grandson, Abe, will be a great violinist. Grandpa's other expectation is that Willy, the African-American boy from across the alley will be a future baseball player in the Negro Leagues. Grandpa turns out to be very wrong, and as stereotypes are broken, he accepts reality with grace.

The paintings romanticize the tree lined blocks of Brooklyn brownstones fifty summers ago, when kids played stickball in the street, and neighbors like Willy and Abe could walk to Temple, or to the corner lot to play baseball. This book is a gem, highly recommended for secular and Jewish schools and all public libraries. It is an excellent example of both an intergenerational and a multi-cultural picture book at its best.

For ages 6-10, and a grandparent.

Reviewed by Naomi Morse
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Kamin on January 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Abe is a Jewish boy whose grandfather wants him to play the violin like Jascha Heifetz. Willie is an African-American boy whose father wants him to play baseball like Satchel Paige. The boys enjoy a secret friendship at night across the alleyway between their bedroom windows but it turns out that they are both more successful when they switch hobbies. When their secret is discovered, it is Willie who performs in the recital at the synagogue and Abe who takes the pitching mound at the baseball game. This lovely story of friendship in post-World War II Brooklyn, New York is complemented by the beautiful illustrations by Caldecott and Coretta Scott King award winner, E.B. Lewis.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Willie and Abe are neighbors, but they don't play together. Abe is Jewish and Willie is black.
This thought provoking book has beautiful, bright, realistic illustrations.
It answers the question? Why don't they play together?
Abe's grandfather thinks Abe should practice the violin all the time. Willie's father wants him to be a professional ball player. Willie's father had played baseball for the Negros Leagues and has high hopes for his son to follow in his footsteps and have a career in baseball.
Although Willie and Abe don't speak to each other during the day they have become friends across the alley sharing their talents through their bedroom windows. Willie is utterly fascinated with Abe's violin and Abe really, really wants to play baseball.
Secretly, they share their talents. Abe teaches Willie how to play the violin, and Willis show Abe how to hold a baseball for pitching. As it turns out Willie is a natural for violin and Abe also learns quickly and shows talent.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Marci Twain on February 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The book is well-written and the illustrations (watercolor images) are good, too. The text works well with the images, but I couldn't really follow the story by just looking at the pictures. There are 17 scenes in this book, some of which are two pages wide.

The story is about a white kid and a black kid that live across an alley from each other. One kid has a grandfather who is skilled with a violin and the other kid has a father who is good with a baseball. Each kid teaches the other to excel in the skill their relative has taught them. In the beginning of the story the boys have to be friends in secret because the neighborhood did not believe in the mixing of races. But by the end of the story the boys are able to be best of friends so all could see. What a nice ending!

I think some kids will like this book a lot. But I think some kids will misunderstand it. I'm curious why the author makes it an issue that the white kid was Jewish. He never mentioned the black kid's faith. Were the kids supposed to stay apart because they had different religions or because their skin color was different? I would have liked the book better if it had left religion out of the story. 4 stars!
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