Just Like Josh Gibson


The story goes...
Grandmama could hit the ball a mile,
catch anything that was thrown,
and do everything else —
just like Josh Gibson.

But unfortunately, no matter how well a girl growing up in the 1940s played the game of baseball, she would have faced tremendous challenges. These challenges are not unlike...

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The story goes...
Grandmama could hit the ball a mile,
catch anything that was thrown,
and do everything else —
just like Josh Gibson.

But unfortunately, no matter how well a girl growing up in the 1940s played the game of baseball, she would have faced tremendous challenges. These challenges are not unlike those met by the legendary Josh Gibson, arguably the best Negro-League player to never make it into the majors.
In a poignant tribute to anyone who's had a dream deferred, two-time Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Angela Johnson and celebrated artist Beth Peck offer up this reminder — that the small steps made by each of us inspire us all.

A young girl's grandmother tells her of her love for baseball and the day they let her play in the game even though she was a girl.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The man called "the Babe Ruth of the Negro Leagues" serves as catalyst to this girl-empowering baseball story. "Readers can't help but identify with the heroine when she joyfully participates in the sport she loves," according to PW. Ages 5-7. (Jan.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A young girl is inspired by her grandmother's story of how she grew up loving baseball, but had to stay "outside the fence" when the boys played because "girls in the forties didn't play baseball." When given the chance, however, she could really hit and throw, always imagining she was Josh Gibson, hero of the Negro League. One day the boys' team is short a member and calls on her. Even in her pink dress and Mary Janes she comes through just like her hero. The grandmother still has the ball from that game, along with the memories of the cheers. But although the race barrier in baseball has fallen, the author notes, the gender barrier still exists. See the new Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen by Marissa Moss, illustrated by C.F. Payne (Simon & Schuster, 2004) for an interesting comparison. Peck uses pastels effectively to create the vivacity of youngsters at play. Double-page scenes depict the events of the brief text but extend them with simple settings that are proper backdrops for the drama of youthful energy and spiritual assurance. The vigorous strokes of chalk create emotionally charged reality. The author has added facts about the life of Josh Gibson. 2004, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 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 Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Peck's strong, evocative pastels with their vintage look are just right for Johnson's home run of a story. A girl tells of her Grandmama's birth and how her dad said his new baby would play just like the great Negro League catcher Josh Gibson. And so she did, practicing her hitting even though girls didn't play baseball in the '50s-except for one Fourth of July, when her cousin Danny's injury leaves an opening on his team. Grandmama hit the ball, caught the ball, and stole home-"just like Josh Gibson." The action takes place in memory, while the girl and her grandmother sit at a kitchen table with a photograph, bat, glove, and ball. An end note offers a brief bio of Gibson and makes reference to two female players who also have splendid picture books about them: Alta Weiss, who played pro ball in Deborah Hopkinson's Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings (p. 232) and Jackie Mitchell, who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back-to-back in Marissa Moss's upcoming Mighty Jackie, the Strike-out Queen. Johnson never disappoints; in this one memory, family stories and baseball braid together a sweetly powerful and slyly subversive tale. (Picture book. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416927280
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 1/9/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 281,824
  • Age range: 5 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Angela Johnson has won three Coretta Scott King Awards, one each for her novels The First Part Last, Heaven, and Toning the Sweep. The First Part Last was also the recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award. She is also the author of the novels Looking for Red and A Certain October. Her books for younger readers include the Coretta Scott King Honor Book When I Am Old with You, illustrated by David Soman; Wind Flyers and I Dream of Trains, both illustrated by Loren Long; and Lottie Paris Lives Here and its sequel Lottie Paris and the Best Place, both illustrated by Scott M. Fischer. Additional picture books include A Sweet Smell of Roses, Just Like Josh Gibson, The Day Ray Got Away, and All Different Now. In recognition of her outstanding talent, Angela was named a 2003 MacArthur Fellow. She lives in Kent, Ohio. Visit her at AJohnsonAuthor.com.

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