From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3--A young narrator opens this story about her grandmother with an anecdote about the legendary Josh Gibson, a Negro League player who once hit a baseball so hard in Pittsburgh that it landed during his game in Philadelphia the next day. That was the day Grandmama was born. Her father brought a Louisville slugger to the hospital and vowed that his daughter would "make baseballs fly, just like Josh Gibson." She became as good a player as the boys on the Maple Grove All-Stars, and sometimes she was invited to practice with them. When her cousin hurt his arm during a game, Grandmama got her chance to hear the cheers as she ran the bases, "stealing home." Peck's well-designed, richly colored pastel artwork, which shows people with emotion and depth, is clearly the highlight of the book. Young Grandmama, in yellow pedal pushers or a pink dress, stands out among the boys' white uniforms and the burnt orange chest protectors of the catcher and umpire. A close-up at the end shows the narrator holding the very ball her grandmother hit, as the older woman looks on, her hand on a photo of the team. Information about Hall of Famer Gibson is appended. Although the story is slight, it imparts the message that a girl can succeed at a "boy's game" if she sets her mind to it.--Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
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PreS-Gr. 2. Johnson pays tribute to Negro Leagues legend Josh Gibson in this poetic picture book about a girl who longs to play ball. The narrator is a young girl, who tells her grandmother's story. Grandmama's father, a die-hard Gibson fan, teaches his daughter to play baseball, even though there were no teams for girls in the 1940s. When her cousin Danny is injured in a game, Grandmama fills in. Wearing her "pink dress with a white bow," she bats and catches "just like Josh Gibson," earning cheers that she still cherishes. Johnson tempers what could have been a sentimental tale with Grandmama's contagious enthusiasm and sense of empowerment, and her text has a baseball announcer's suspenseful rhythm: "the balls sailed away, sailed away, gone." Peck's angular pastels, while occasionally awkward in the details, skillfully capture the nostalgic sports action and celebration as well as the pride the girl feels in Grandmama's accomplishments. A closing note offers a brief, nicely documented biography of Gibson. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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