Play Ball, Jackie!


Batter up! It's Jackie Robinson's first game in the major leagues. April 15, 1947, is a big day for ten-year-old Matty Romano. His dad is taking him to see his favorite team?the Brooklyn Dodgers?on opening day! It's also a big day for the Dodgers' new first baseman, Jackie Robinson. Many white fans don't like the fact that an African American is playing in the major leagues. By putting Jackie on the team, the Dodgers are breaking the color barrier. How will Jackie respond to the pressure? Is he the player who can...

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Batter up! It's Jackie Robinson's first game in the major leagues. April 15, 1947, is a big day for ten-year-old Matty Romano. His dad is taking him to see his favorite team—the Brooklyn Dodgers—on opening day! It's also a big day for the Dodgers' new first baseman, Jackie Robinson. Many white fans don't like the fact that an African American is playing in the major leagues. By putting Jackie on the team, the Dodgers are breaking the color barrier. How will Jackie respond to the pressure? Is he the player who can finally help the Dodgers make it back to the World Series?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1947, a boy learns how his father got free tickets to the Opening Day game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Braves: Jackie Robinson is the Dodgers' new first baseman, and many fans are outraged. Matty's father also expresses his opinion: "I want to see the best players out there... I don't care what color they are." Some members of the stylized crowd wear "I'm for Jackie" buttons, while others raise their fists, heckling Robinson, who is drawn in resolute steel blues. Morse's dramatically grained, exaggerated artwork plays up the intensity of the era's racial tensions and the dynamism of the game, while Krensky adeptly moves between the action on Ebbets Field and Matty's conversations with his father. An intimate and powerful account of a historic day. Ages 7–10. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Vicki Foote
It's the opening day of the season for the Brooklyn Dodgers and an especially momentous day for Jackie Robinson and the history of baseball. The year is 1947, and Matty is ten years old. His father takes him to the game because he was given free tickets. His father tells Matty how someone, disgusted that a black man was playing in the game, gave them the tickets. Up until now, black men only played in the Negro Leagues. Matty's father tells him about how his father came to America from Italy, and because he was strange to them, a lot of people didn't give him a chance, either. Matty remembers his grandfather's stories and thinks about how everyone deserves a chance for a better life. During the break, Matty meets some boys who give him a button to wear that says, "I'm for Jackie." The game gets exciting, and Matty enjoys watching Jackie Robinson play. There are photographs of Robinson and his family on one page, and an "Author's Note" has a brief biography of Robinson. Books and websites are listed. The illustrations are big and bold, and dramatically show the action, intensity, and emotion. This entertaining account of a social milestone should be interesting for young readers. Reviewer: Vicki Foote
Kirkus Reviews

Matty and his father, avid Dodgers fans, are in the stands for the first game of the 1947 baseball season. It is also the first time in the modern era that a black player is part of a major league team—Jackie Robinson's debut. There are many black fans there to support him, as well as many white fans who resent his presence. Matty and his dad are of the opinion that everyone deserves a chance and are optimistic that Jackie will be the one to get their team to the World Series. Krensky creates a multilayered recounting of a seminal moment in the history of baseball and America. He incorporates background information while carefully and accurately describing the play-by-play details of that first game, and he also manages to capture the mood of the crowd—and, by extension, the nation. Morse's muscular, out-of-proportion illustrations focus readers' attention on facial and body language, emphasizing the strong emotions alluded to in the text. A worthy homage to a baseball legend. (author's note, photos, bibliography)(Picture book. 7-10)

School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—This book offers a child's view of Jackie Robinson's first game as a Brooklyn Dodger on Major League Baseball's Opening Day April 15, 1947, a day former Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig referred to as "baseball's proudest moment." Matty attends the event with his father, who got the tickets free from a disgruntled colleague. As they watch, Matty's dad recalls that his father, an Italian-American immigrant, also faced prejudice. As the game goes on, the boy hears some people heckling Robinson but by the final inning, he proudly sports an "I'm for Jackie" button and declares, "I wouldn't have missed Jackie Robinson for anything." Morse's graphic illustrations capture the fans' excitement along with the on-field drama. Text and illustrations add historical context: as the boy muses that "Times seemed to be changing," the illustrations depict African-American World War II soldiers, and a newspaper headline refers to the Tuskegee Airmen. An author's note offers an overview of Robinson's life and career. This well-crafted book deserves a place on the growing shelf of books designed to introduce readers to Robinson, including Sharon Robinson's Jackie's Gift (Viking, 2010) and Testing the Ice (Scholastic, 2009) and Myron Uhlberg's Dad, Jackie, and Me (Peachtree, 2005).—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822590309
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 523,193
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 480L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Krensky did not have the kind of childhood anyone would choose to write books about. It was happy and uneventful, with only the occasional bump in the night to keep him on his toes.
He started writing at Hamilton College in upstate New York where he graduated in 1975. His first book, A Big Day for Scepters, was published in 1977, and he has now written over 100 fiction and nonfiction children's books—including novels, picture books, easy readers, and biographies. Mr. Krensky and his family live in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Joe Morse is an award-winning illustrator and artist. His work has graced everything from billboards in England to coins in Canada. He directs the Illustration Degree program at Sheridan Institute outside of Toronto. Joe lives in Toronto with his wife, the illustrator/designer Lorraine Tuson, and their 2 children.

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  • Posted February 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An exciting story of Jackie Robinson

    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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