Stealing Home: Jackie Robinson: Against the Odds

Stealing Home: Jackie Robinson: Against the Odds

by Robert Burleigh, Mike Wimmer

Man on third. Two outs. The pitcher eyes the base runner, checks for the sign. The fans in the jammed stadium hold their breath. Flapping his outstretched arms like wings, number 42 leads off again. It is September 1955, game one of the World Series, the Yankees versus the Dodgers, and Jackie Robinson is about to do the unbelievable. Attempt to steal home. In a

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Man on third. Two outs. The pitcher eyes the base runner, checks for the sign. The fans in the jammed stadium hold their breath. Flapping his outstretched arms like wings, number 42 leads off again. It is September 1955, game one of the World Series, the Yankees versus the Dodgers, and Jackie Robinson is about to do the unbelievable. Attempt to steal home. In a World Series game. To race a baseball thrown from the pitcher's mound and win! Is it possible? Yes, it is — if you are Jackie Robinson!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this engaging, multilayered collaboration, the creators of Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth pay well-deserved tribute to another baseball legend. Burleigh employs two narrative voices, one a spare, lyrical moment-by-moment replay of Robinson's bold steal home from third base in the first game of the 1955 World Series against the New York Yankees. Identifying the player only as "number 42," the unseen narrator, adopting the tone of an impassioned sportscaster, tells how the Yankee pitcher goes into a slow windup, "darting a quick glance sideways, where the base runner starts and stops cold and starts again, bursting suddenly in two strides from absolute stillness to full speed." Historical sidebars on each spread supplement this dramatic, immediate account, providing anecdotes about the era, Robinson's struggles (including Branch Rickey's famous question to the player about the inevitable racial taunts he would receive: "Can you take it-and not fight back?") plus highlights of his baseball career (best season, rookie of the year, MVP, etc.) and personal life. Wimmer's textured, animated oil paintings depict the game action at close range and with lifelike clarity. The art deftly intensifies the emotion of Robinson's home-stealing triumph, revealing the deep concentration and resolve of the ballplayers on both teams, the anticipation of the spectators and the gratification of fans and Dodgers alike after Robinson makes it home safely. Ages 6-9. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Michelle H. Martin
In this picture book, Robert Burleigh has essentially created two books in one: brief but tantalizing text appears on each page that tells the exciting story in present tense of one instance of Jackie Robinson stealing home, while a separate text box offers interesting details, told in past tense, about Robinson's life, career, and racial struggle to play professional baseball when few blacks did. Younger readers learn of Robinson's "odd, pigeon-toed dance," the "dirt-scumbled and chalk-lined path leading to home plate," and the "visible electricity" in the crowd watching the game. Older readers find out that Robinson was not only a talented baseball player, but he also broke his brother Mack's broad jump record at UCLA and excelled in football, basketball, and even tennis and ping-pong. Included are also lesser known facts about his fight for civil rights: as a youngster in Pasadena, California, he and some of his white friends held a "sit-in" at a lunch counter until they were all served, and as a soldier he protested the U.S. Army's unfair treatment of blacks. The most wonderful feature of this picture book is that it is so compelling and visually alive with motion that even non-sports fans will find plenty to enjoy between its covers. Readers old and young will absorb not only the thrill of the game from the action-packed oil-on-canvas illustrations, but they will also learn important facts about American history and some biographical details about a fascinating and truly extraordinary human being. An excellent companion to the recently published Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America by Sharon Robinson, Jackie's daughter, and Dad, Jackie and Me byMyron Uhlberg and Colin Bootman, this book contributes one more perspective toward a panoramic view of the legend Jackie Robinson.
School Library Journal

Gr 1–4
This well-intentioned picture book tribute is marred by a disjointed narrative. While double-page paintings capture the intense excitement of the play as the Hall of Famer steals home, a few lines of free verse detail the action. Meanwhile, along with each painting and verse, a box of text introduces an aspect of Robinson's life and career. One, for example, briefly limns the segregated nature of baseball in 1946; others focus on the athlete's base-running skills, his family, his rookie season, his best season, the Brooklyn Dodgers' rivalry with the Yankees, and his early life. These snippets of information (two to three paragraphs each) are superimposed on facsimiles of old baseball cards; in small-sized font against a slate-colored background, they are frustratingly hard to read. Some of the factoids are interesting and Wimmer's oils are attractive and well done, but with its lack of a cohesive narrative, this effort falls short. Baseball fans will welcome the book despite its flaws; but for straightforward introductions, steer readers to Carin T. Ford's Jackie Robinson: Hero of Baseball (Enslow, 2006) or Sharon Robinson's Jackie's Nine: Jackie Robinson's Values to Live By (Scholastic, 2001).
—Marilyn TaniguchiCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
During a World Series game in 1955, Jackie Robinson electrified the crowd and astonished the baseball world by successfully stealing home. Burleigh takes that unforgettable moment and employs just the right imagery to bring it to life. Wimmer's vivid, compelling illustrations, rendered in oils on canvas, are perfect accompaniments. Each double-paged spread features a painting across the fold, with the text printed on a background that simulates a wooden fence. Under the text, framed as a baseball card, Burleigh adds chatty vignettes containing fascinating, lesser-known biographical information about Robinson. The layout, however, creates a somewhat schizophrenic experience. Attempting to read each page thoroughly interrupts the flow of the text; reading the two components as separate works is the only solution. Younger readers in particular will have difficulty with this format and with the extremely tiny print in the "baseball card" sections. It's unfortunate that the high level of writing and art is lessened by design choices that do not consider the needs of the reader, because the story is terrific. (Picture book. 7-10)

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Product Details

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.40(d)
AD910L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Robert Burleigh is the award-winning author of many books for children, including The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn, illustrated by Barry Blitt; Night Flight, illustrated by Wendell Minor; and Black Whiteness, illustrated by Walter Lyon Krudop. His many other books include Hoops; Stealing Home; and Clang! Clang! Beep! Beep! He lives in Michigan.

Mike Wimmer has illustrated many books for children, including Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth by Robert Burleigh, which was named an ALA Notable Children’s Book and was called a “grand slam” in a starred review in Publishers Weekly. He also illustrated Flight: The Journey of Charles Lindbergh by Robert Burleigh, which received the Orbis Pictus Award for nonfiction. He lives in Oklahoma with his family.

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