Published Oct 1, 2009
Hardcover, 40 pages
When Jackie Robinson retires from baseball and moves his family to Connecticut, the beautiful lake on their property is the center of everyone’s fun. The neighborhood children join the Robinson kids for swimming and boating. But oddly, Jackie never goes near the water. In a dramatic episode that first winter, Jackie is called upon to test the ice on the lake, to make sure it’s safe for ice-skating. But why, Sharon wonders, is he always so afraid to go near the water?
This is a beautiful book—a tribute from a daughter to her heroic father. And isn’t that the way it should be? My father was certainly my childhood hero (and he still is!). Author Sharon Robinson grew up with fond memories of her father who was the first black man to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. It’s a story about courage brought to life through the stunning illustrations by Kadir Nelson. I especially loved the facial close-ups. They helped to make the story that much more real.
But Sharon’s story isn’t about her father, Jackie Robinson’s rise to stardom. Instead, she sets the story to the time when her father was retired and she was a little girl growing up with her siblings on a sprawling property in Connecticut surrounded by woods and a lake where they swam in the summer and skated in the winter. Before they and their friends were allowed to skate on the lake that first winter, however, her father needed to test the ice—a scary notion for someone who did not know how to swim! This incident becomes a metaphor for the courage it took her father to test unknown ground, so to speak, when he agreed to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first black man in history to do so, although he knew he would suffer verbal and physical abuse, which he did.
This book engendered a good discussion with my 9 and 6 year-old children who knew very little of the time when America was racially segregated. It led to the topic of being proactive and non-retaliative when misunderstood or judged, and the importance of treating others equally albeit their race, social status, or religion.
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Disclosure: Thank you to Nikole from Scholastic Canada for sending us this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.
Sounds like a great book to read with children.ReplyDelete
Interesting to point out that it was with the Montreal Royals, a farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers, where Robinson broke the color barrier, in 1945, and was well received by the Montreal fans.ReplyDelete
Most importantly is the legacy of Jackie Robinson; that of a great baseball player, that of the first black man to play professional baseball, or that of a devoted dad facing the inner fear of walking on the ice for his daughter's safety.
I think his daughter answered that for us and perhaps for all dads; that what fathers do outside their children's lives is dwarfed by what they share with their children during their lives.
Vasilios, thanks for the added historical info about the Montreal Royals!ReplyDelete