The author has a clever way of telling her story�she lets someone else do it. Presented as a school report by one Emily Brooks (who gets a byline on the title page), the book is ostensibly the result of Emily's assignment to write about any event in history. A baseball fan, she visits the Baseball Hall of Fame and learns that not only was there a Negro League, but that there was a time when it was the ONLY way that blacks could play ball. The pages include numerous old-time photos and pictures that look like a child's illustrations�a winning combination, so to speak. "Emily" speaks in a clear voice, conveying lots of information with a slight tinge of disbelief about the grimmer side of the game she loves. In a nice touch, Emily is shown in a snapshot with her best friend and Little League teammate, Sarah, and the caption, "I am glad nothing keeps us from playing together." The book also provides a surprising bit of information: that a few black ballplayers DID join pro teams in the 1870s and 1880s. "But it doesn't sound to me like they had much fun," Emily writes; in fact, one of the black players is said to have invented the shin guard, because all the white players kept spiking him. Not a pretty picture, but kids need to know that the national pastime wasn't always everybody's ballgame. 2002, Grosset & Dunlap,
Donna Freedman <%ISBN%>0448426846
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-This book opens with a teacher giving her class a vague assignment to "write about something that happened thousands of years ago or about something that happened not so very long ago-." Emily chooses to write about her visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame where she saw an entire room dedicated to the Negro Leagues. She records interesting facts such as how players often rode through the towns on bikes or dressed in fancy clothes to get people to attend their games and how pitchers used Vaseline or sandpaper on the balls to make them jump and dip. There is little substance here beyond the mention of a handful of players. Emily editorializes throughout her report-"Finally, in 1947, baseball changed. By then, more and more white people thought it wasn't fair that black players couldn't be in the major leagues. (I don't know why it took them so long to figure that out.)" Black-and-white vintage photos are surrounded by colorful drawings. On the final page, Ms. Brandt writes a note back to Emily and mentions Ken Burns's TV documentary, but there is no bibliography appended to extend this reference for those who would like to view the video. Lawrence S. Ritter's Leagues Apart: The Men and Times of the Negro Baseball Leagues (Morrow, 1995) tells the story better, but for an older audience.-Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.