From School Library Journal
Grade 1–4—This well-intentioned picture book tribute is marred by a disjointed narrative. While double-page paintings capture the intense excitement of the play as the Hall of Famer steals home, a few lines of free verse detail the action. Meanwhile, along with each painting and verse, a box of text introduces an aspect of Robinson's life and career. One, for example, briefly limns the segregated nature of baseball in 1946; others focus on the athlete's base-running skills, his family, his rookie season, his best season, the Brooklyn Dodgers' rivalry with the Yankees, and his early life. These snippets of information (two to three paragraphs each) are superimposed on facsimiles of old baseball cards; in small-sized font against a slate-colored background, they are frustratingly hard to read. Some of the factoids are interesting and Wimmer's oils are attractive and well done, but with its lack of a cohesive narrative, this effort falls short. Baseball fans will welcome the book despite its flaws; but for straightforward introductions, steer readers to Carin T. Ford's Jackie Robinson: Hero of Baseball
(Enslow, 2006) or Sharon Robinson's Jackie's Nine: Jackie Robinson's Values to Live By
(Scholastic, 2001).—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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Burleigh's text features vivid, sharp images ("number 42 dances his odd pigeon-toed dance off third base") that describe Jackie Robinson stealing home during a game in the 1955 World Series. In addition to the main story line, each two-page spread includes biographical and historical snippets, boxed and in smaller type, about Robinson's complicated and often difficult life--his years as a multisport star at UCLA, his role as the first African American in major league baseball. This pairing of the poetic main story and the expository backstory is potentially awkward for adults presenting the book to kids, but even the biographical segments are written with muscular energy. Wimmer's oil paintings are simply gorgeous--rich, thickly painted close-ups of pitcher, runner, batter, crowd (he chooses to focus mostly on black faces in the stands, which adds a powerful effect). GraceAnne DeCandidoCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved