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Play Ball, Jackie!

Play Ball, Jackie!

By: Stephen Krensky
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Publication Date: April 2011
ISBN: 978-0822590309
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: February 25, 2011

Jackie Robinson quietly finished suiting up as the crowds filled Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. It was opening day, April 15, 1947, and change had come to major league baseball. It was the first time a black man would step up to the plate and, "for a lot of people that was a problem." Manny Romano was a big time Dodgers fan and hoped the team would make it to the World Series. His Dad had gotten some free tickets because, "One of the guys at work refused to go." It was going to be one hot game and would get hotter once Jackie stepped on the field. Manny had read about how tough it was for black people and how they, "couldn't eat in certain restaurants." Times were changing, but some people wouldn't. Manny turned to his Dad and asked, "Should Jackie Robinson be here?"

Jackie stepped up to the plate to face the Braves' pitcher, Johnny Sain, only to ground out to third and listen to the wrath of the angry crowd. "You're an old man, Robinson," cried a voice from a sea of angry faces. Manny had heard that some people were wearing buttons that said, "I'm for Jackie," but this crowd didn't seem to be. His second time up at bat, he popped up to left field. No go. "You stink, Robinson! Go back where you belong." Was he going to be able to show his stuff or would his nerves get the better of him? It was the bottom of the seventh and Jackie's face was set in determination as he stepped up to the plate ...

This is an exciting story of Jackie Robinson, a man who really could take the heat. This book not only focuses on Jackie's first day with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but also on the difficulties the average African American had to face during that era. The reader will learn about racism and discrimination in the era through things Manny says he has read or through shared dialogue between father and son. There is a brief, but telling scene during the seventh-inning stretch when several boys discuss the, "I'm for Jackie" button with a young African American boy who is sporting one. The artwork is bold, nostalgic and meshes quite well with the story. There is one page with three photographs of Jackie, including his childhood family portrait. In the back of the book is an author's note with additional biographical information, and additional recommended book and website resources.

Quill says: There are many stories about Jackie for the young audience, but this one is particularly impressive.

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