Across the Alley

Across the Alley

5.0 1
by Richard Michelson, E. B. Lewis

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Abe and Willie live across the alley from each other. Willie is black and Abe is Jewish, and during the day, they don't talk. But at night they open their windows and are best friends. Willie shows Abe how to throw a real big-league slider, and Abe gives Willie his violin to try out. Then one night, Abe's grandfather catches them—will Abe and Willie have the


Abe and Willie live across the alley from each other. Willie is black and Abe is Jewish, and during the day, they don't talk. But at night they open their windows and are best friends. Willie shows Abe how to throw a real big-league slider, and Abe gives Willie his violin to try out. Then one night, Abe's grandfather catches them—will Abe and Willie have the courage to cross the alley and reveal their friendship during the day?

Like the bestselling The Other Side, E. B. Lewis's striking, atmospheric watercolors bring to life a moving story of baseball and music, and how two young people try to bridge the divide of prejudice.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Two young boys, next-door neighbors in a time when African Americans played baseball only in the Negro Leagues, don't play together during the day. Prejudice still separates Jewish Abe from African American Willie. But during one summer the boys, who have become best friends at night, begin to play ball from their windows across the alley. They have also found that slavery of a sort is in both their family histories. Abe's Grandpa thinks baseball is a waste of time for Jewish boys, and insists that he practice his violin. But Abe gives Willie a chance at his violin, and Willie becomes "a natural." Abe is scheduled to play at a temple recital. But one night his grandfather discovers Willie playing, and takes him to play instead. Meanwhile, Willie's grandfather gives Abe a chance to practice his pitching at a sand lot game, and the stereotypes are broken. Lewis's watercolor jacket of the boys playing catch between their windows is a visual metaphor for their more complex exchanges of actions and emotions. The full-page sequences of naturalistic scenes tell the visual story effectively, describing the significant details only in order to focus on the personalities of the characters. The up-beat tale is a hopeful vision.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-The poignancy of two boys who can be friends only at night is revealed brilliantly in both text and rich watercolor art. Willie's dad, a starter in the Negro leagues, expects that his son will pitch in the majors. Abe's Jewish grandfather, a violinist in the old country before World War II, is sure that his grandson will be the next Jascha Heifetz. What neither man knows is that the boys have been sharing their talents across the alley at night. When Abe's grandfather discovers that it's Willie's beautiful music he has been hearing, he invites him to perform at the temple. As Willie's dad, Abe's grandfather, and the two boys walk there, people stare at them, and Willie's dad says, "Ignorance comes in as many colors as talent." Nobody wants to sit by Willie and his father in the temple, but the boy is as victorious at the recital as Abe is at the baseball game later that afternoon. Best of all, supported by their loving families, the expectation is that they now can be friends in the light. With lovely art that captures the joy both boys feel about their respective talents, this endearing picture book offers a compelling message about overcoming prejudice.-Alexa Sandmann, Kent State University, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Jewish Abe and African-American Willie are best friends, but only secretly at night, through the windows of their city apartment buildings. Abe's grandfather, a brilliant violinist in the old country, wants young Abe to follow in his shoes. Willie's dad was a starter in the Negro Leagues and wants his son to be a baseball pitcher. At night, the boys trade hobbies. It quickly becomes apparent that Willie is a natural musician while Abe is a natural athlete. Their bond strengthens when they discover that racism affected both their ancestors. Willie and his dad scandalize the neighborhood when they accompany Abe and his grandfather to Temple, where Willie plays violin beautifully. Clearly set during the time of segregation, the now-open friendship of the boys lends hope for a future without racism. Lewis's watercolor illustrations are as beautiful as ever, with lovely swathes of light and use of soft, dark colors. Lewis makes the point of subtly depicting the boys at night in such a way that their races are not easily identified. A beautiful blend of story and art. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.30(w) x 10.30(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Richard Michelson is the author of several picture books. He is also an accomplished poet and owns the R. Michelson Gallery in Northampton, MA, which often features children’s book illustrations. Find out more at
Earl Bradley Lewis was born on December 16, 1956, in Philadelphia, PA. As early as the third grade he displayed artistic promise. Inspired by two uncles, who where artists, Lewis decided he wanted to follow in their footsteps.

After finishing the sixth grade, he attended the Saturday morning Temple University School Art League run by his uncle. Under the tutelage of Clarence Wood, a noted painter in Philadelphia, Lewis began his formal art training. He remained in the program until his enrollment in the Temple University Tyler School of Art in 1975.

During his four years at Temple, Lewis majored in Graphic Design and Illustration, along with Art Education. There he discovered his medium of preference, watercolor.

Upon graduation in 1979, Lewis went directly into teaching, along with freelancing in Graphic Design. Between 1985 and 1986 he had completed a body of work which was exhibited in a downtown Philadelphia gallery. The show sold out and bought him public recognition and critical acclaim. Within two years his work was exhibited at the prestigious Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia, where his shows continue to sell out.

Lewis' work is now part of major private collections and is displayed in galleries throughout the United States. Honoring Lewis, Barbara Bader's History on American Picture books will be including a description of Earl and his achievements as an artist. Currently, Earl Lewis is teaching illustration at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is a member of The Society of Illustrators in New York City.

E. B. Lewis is the illustrator of two Coretta Scott King Honor Books, Rows and Piles of Coins and Bat Boy and his Violin. He lives in New Jersey.

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Across the Alley 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago