From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—Adler crafts a portrait of an individual whose zeal for life enabled him to stay positive and productive even after a car crash left him a quadriplegic. Campy always loved baseball, signing with the Baltimore Elite Giants of the Negro Leagues when he was only 15. In 1945, Branch Rickey invited him to sign with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He became major league baseball's first African-American catcher in 1948, and won league MVP in 1951, 1953, and 1955. Left paralyzed in 1958, he regained some basic skills and eventually was able to become a baseball coach. Adler's account is lively and concise; though the author is clearly a fan, he manages to keep sentimentality at bay. James's oil paintings are a lovely complement to the story, adding detail and character. The book is an accessible introduction to this inspiring athlete's story.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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Roy Campanella, one of the greatest catchers in baseball history, was the second African American signed by Branch Rickey to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers,. He joined the team in 1948, one year after his teammate, Jackie Robinson, broke the color line. Adler, author of the Cam Jansen mystery series as well as numerous historical biographies for young readers, capably reprises Campy's on-field triumphs (three-time National League Most Valuable Player) and off-field tragedy (he was paralyzed in a car accident in 1958), while James delivers evocative illustrations in the soft-focus, pastel-heavy style that has become standard for baseball nostalgia. There is no shortage of picture books about the Brooklyn Dodgers, but Campy's inspirational life story, less well known among today's children than Robinson's, deserves to be heard, and baseball-loving baby-boomer grandparents, who came of age in the 1950s, will relish the chance to tell it. Bill Ott
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