Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson


Sharon Robinson, the daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, has crafted a hearwarming, true story about growing up with her father.

When Jackie Robinson retires from baseball and moves his family to Connecticut, the beautiful lake on their property is the center of everyone's fun. The neighborhood children join the Robinson kids for swimming and boating. But oddly, Jackie never goes near the water.
In a dramatic episode that first ...

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Sharon Robinson, the daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, has crafted a hearwarming, true story about growing up with her father.

When Jackie Robinson retires from baseball and moves his family to Connecticut, the beautiful lake on their property is the center of everyone's fun. The neighborhood children join the Robinson kids for swimming and boating. But oddly, Jackie never goes near the water.
In a dramatic episode that first winter, the children beg to go ice skating on the lake. Jackie says they can go--but only after he tests the ice to make sure it's safe. The children prod and push to get Jackie outside, until hesitantly, he finally goes. Like a blind man with a stick, (contd.)

2009 Parents' Choice Approved winner

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  • Sharon Robinson & Kadir Nelson
    Sharon Robinson & Kadir Nelson  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Superficially seen, this is the true story of a devoted father testing the ice on a frozen Connecticut pond before his children can go skating. But this father is no average dad; he is African-American baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson, and his risky walk to the center of the lake is a metaphor for his brave leap into segregated major league baseball. Testing the Ice points the way to courage by revealing that it is something we can do every day. Inspirational at any time of the year.
Julie Just
Jackie Robinson's daughter builds a charming story around a childhood memory…With the basics of his biography efficiently woven in, this is a lovely introduction to a baseball legend.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
The daughter of the baseball legend recalls the moment when she fully understood the courage it took for her father to break baseball’s color barrier. Jackie Robinson never learned to swim and refuses to join his kids in the lake that fronts their Connecticut estate. But when winter comes and everyone wants to go skating, Robinson overcomes his fear to test the ice for his children. “We waited for what seemed like forever,” recalls the author (Slam Dunk!), describing how the ice moans and heaves as her father taps it with a broomstick to determine its thickness. “That was Jackie Robinson. And that was my dad. Big, heavy, out there alone on the lake, testing the ice to be sure it would be safe for us.” Nelson (Henry’s Freedom Box), a Caldecott Honor artist, contributes sumptuous, cinematic paintings that immerse readers in every scene, whether it’s an eye-to-eye meeting with Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey or an idyllic summer afternoon at the family home. Readers will close the book understanding that there are many ways to be hero—and Robinson had all the bases covered. Ages 7–10. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Shelly McCoy
This is a beautifully illustrated book written by Jackie Robinson's daughter about her father, his break into baseball, and a personal family story. The family had just moved from Queens, NY to Connecticut and the part of the move that the family liked best was the new friends that they made with the neighbors and the lake that ran to their yard. The reader is drawn into the story by the lifelike and sometimes strikingly up-close illustrations that provide just the right kind of larger than life look at the icon Jackie Robinson as a baseball player and also as the family man who never went in the water no matter how much his three children begged him. History is explained to the readers so that they know that in 1945 black players were denied entry into the American baseball league because of the color of their skin and this racism extended into their daily lives because they had a hard time finding food worth eating, a restaurant to serve them, or a hotel to sleep in. Bravery becomes the key concept in the story because Jackie Robinson had to be brave in order to open the doors for other black baseball players after him and for facing his fear of water to ensure the safety of his children. In the retelling of this warm memory, Sharon Robinson teaches children a lesson about the meaning of courage in a couple of different contexts. Reviewer: Shelly McCoy
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—An affectionate tribute to Robinson's father's courage and character. In 1955, the family leaves New York City for a lakeside home in an idyllic, woodsy setting in Connecticut. Sharon and her brothers quickly make friends with the neighborhood kids and spend much of their time playing in and around the lake, though she notices that her dad never joins them in the water. Her new friends are awestruck by him and his stories of his breakthrough into the Major Leagues. When he bravely tests the ice so that the children can play on the frozen lake, Sharon realizes that he can't swim. Robinson neatly sums up the significance of her father's achievements while depicting him as a loving family man. Nelson's large paintings, done in pencil, watercolor, and oils, dramatically convey Robinson's public persona, the intensely competitive athlete, and contrasts that with the relaxed, yet commanding father Sharon and her brothers knew. This book is for a younger audience than the author's Jackie's Nine: Jackie Robinson's Values to Live By (2001) and Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America (2004, both Scholastic), but it adds another facet to children's understanding of the man and should resonate with a wide range of readers.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
In 1955 Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers beat out the Yankees and the Robinson family left New York City for a secluded home in Connecticut. Sharon Robinson's remembrance of this time includes a concise description of how her father became the first African American to play in the major leagues, accompanied by sepia-toned illustrations. This recollection's Connecticut scenes are painted in lush seasonal colors, as swimming and boating are favorite pastimes at their new home, although Jackie always sticks to the shore. The first winter in Connecticut offers a new entertainment: ice skating. Sharon, her siblings and their friends beg Jackie to take them on the ice. As the legendary ballplayer tentatively makes his way onto the frozen lake Sharon has a dramatic realization-her father can't swim. Nelson uses varied perspectives to create tension and then resolution as Robinson signals the all-clear. This fond daughter's reminiscence is a welcome addition to the life story of one of America's best-known athletes and civil-rights advocates. (Picture book/memoir. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545052511
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Series: Testing The Ice
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 264,151
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.34 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, is the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction. She has also written several widely praised nonfiction books about her father, including JACKIE'S NINE: BECOMING YOUR BEST SELF and PROMISES TO KEEP: HOW JACKIE ROBINSON CHANGED AMERICA.

Kadir Nelson illustrated two Caldecott Honor Books: MOSES and HENRY'S FREEDOM BOX. ELLINGTON WAS NOT A STREET by Ntozake Shange won the Coretta Scott King Award. Will Smith’s JUST THE TWO OF US won an NAACP Image Award, and his new book, WE ARE THE SHIP continues to garner major awards. Nelson showed artistic talent at age 3 and began working in oils by age 16. He lives with his family in San Diego, California.

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