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Under the Same Sun

Under the Same Sun

by Sharon Robinson, A.G. Ford (Illustrator)

Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball great Jackie Robinson, shares an inspirational story about her family in Tanzania. AG Ford is a NEW YORK TIMES best-selling artist and winner of the NAACP Award.

Auntie Sharon and Grandmother Bibi have come to visit the family in Tanzania--all the way from America! Soon it will be Bibi's 85th birthday, and her seven


Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball great Jackie Robinson, shares an inspirational story about her family in Tanzania. AG Ford is a NEW YORK TIMES best-selling artist and winner of the NAACP Award.

Auntie Sharon and Grandmother Bibi have come to visit the family in Tanzania--all the way from America! Soon it will be Bibi's 85th birthday, and her seven grandchildren are planning a big surprise!

After days together at home telling stories and filling gaps from the years spent apart, it's time to embark on their secret journey--a safari in Serengeti National Park. But too soon, it's their last day together. And in a bittersweet moment, at the ruins of an old slave port, Bibi's African-born grandchildren come to learn what happened to their ancestors who went by slave ship to America.

Sharon Robinson eloquently portrays the joys and pains of a family living on two continents. And she gives African-American history a powerful new perspective when seen through the eyes of modern-day African children. AG Ford's luminous oil paintings reflect all the warmth and spirit of this moving story.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Glenda R. Carpio
…Robinson's book introduces young readers to a family living on two different continents and speaking different languages, English and Swahili. Emphasizing the family reunion in the context of the African diaspora offers a somewhat romantic if uplifting opportunity to learn about a tragic history.
Publishers Weekly
A Tanzanian family welcomes their Auntie Sharon and Grandmother Bibi from America for a very special occasion: a surprise safari in honor of the matriarch’s 85th birthday. After three days of marveling at the sights and sounds of the Serengeti, Father—Auntie Sharon’s brother—takes the group to the coastal town of Bagamoyo (Swahili for “to let go of one’s heart”) and tells its sad history as a slave-trading post. “e are much more fortunate than our African ancestors who were forced to leave the country that they loved and had no chance of retuning,” Father says. “We are blessed with the freedom to move back and forth.” Robinson (Jackie’s Gift), the daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, bases this book on family history and a family trip, and while her tale isn’t particularly dramatic, her pride in her family’s resilience shines through. Ford’s (Barack) acrylics don’t add much emotional depth despite their detail and rich palette, but he brings a matter-of-fact approach to a distant landscape that underscores how a close family can transcend geography. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

-Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, IRA Notable Book, YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, Children's Book Award, Captial Choice, ALA Top 10 Youth Sports Books

* "[Robinson's] private view of her father's accomplishments, placed within the context of American sports and social history, makes for absorbing reading." -- BOOKLIST, starred review

"An excellent and much-needed addition to the Jackie Robinson story." -- KIRKUS REVIEWS


-Parents' Choice Award

"Jackie Robinson's daughter builds a charming story around a childhood memory. . . . Nelson's close-ups expertly provide suspense. . . . With the basics of his biography efficiently woven in, this is a lovely introduction to a baseball legend." -- NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

"The daughter of the man who broke baseball's color barrier weaves together two stories about courage. One is well-known. . . . The other occurred after he retired from baseball, on a frozen pond at his house in Stamford, Conn., witnessed only by his kids and their friends. At their request, Robinson, who couldn't swim, carefully and successfully tested the ice, moving his daughter to think: "My dad is the bravest man alive." Kadir Nelson's vibrant watercolors and oils, based on Robinson family photos, take on a life of their own." -- USA TODAY

Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
Auntie Sharon (the author) and Grandmother Bibi travel from America to celebrate Bibi’s eighty-fifth birthday with brother/son David and his family in Tanzania. And what a celebration! Bibi and Auntie spend a few days getting caught up with the family and reacclimated to life and culture there, having a joyous time together. Then the entire family drives to the Serengeti, where they go on a glorious safari, thoroughly enjoying the animals and each other. On their way back home, they visit the museum and ruins at Bagamoyo, a slave-trading post, and the story shifts to their family history and the part slavery and oppression played in it. The joyous tone swiftly swings to one of sadness and pensiveness as the children hear their family’s story and face Bibi’s and Auntie’s impending departure back to the States. This abrupt change is jarring. AG Ford’s acrylic and oil paintings beautifully convey the beauty of the land, the energy of the local market, and the joy of this family reunion. When the story alters tone, he alters his palette as well, moving to subdued browns and sepia. The double-page spread of the family, in silhouette, walking along the beach is exquisite. Photographs of the family and local foods, a small Swahili glossary, and a map complete the book. The story lacks drama, but is a sweet reminiscence of treasured time together, making it worthwhile exploration of cross-cultural, intergenerational ties that could be used in social studies or language arts classes, as well as at home. Reviewer: Peg Glisson; Ages 5 to 9.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—This earnest, though overstuffed, story begins as a dual celebration of the author's loving family and of the culture and landscape of Tanzania. Sharon and her mother arrive for a visit with her brother David and his family, who live in the East African nation, and after several days of market-going, hair-braiding, and other charmingly mellow depictions of the local culture, the family surprises the matriarch with a Serengeti safari for her 85th birthday. Ford's acrylic and oil illustrations provide warm visuals for the family celebration and scenes of the magnificent savannah denizens as they lounge, lope, and spring, part of the astonishing splendor of the countryside. Unfortunately, the story then takes a jarring tonal shift. After 24 pages of jubilant family gathering and animal viewing, the following page yields a somber, nondescript view of stone ruins-the remnants, readers learn, of a coastal slave-trading post. The book continues with several pages about the post and the family's ancestral bondage, including impactful illustrations rendered in conventionally "historical" sepia tones and an incomplete definition of slavery. Problematically, the matriarch offers a well-intentioned comparison between the emotions of the captives severed from their homes and loved ones at this slave-ship port and her thriving family's sadness at living at an ocean's distance. Though David gently rebuts the statement, the moment encapsulates the book's startling tonal inconsistency in depicting the reunited family's cheery wildlife excursion and attempting to incorporate the solemn reality of centuries of oppression. Back matter includes an author's note, map, Swahili glossary, and photos of preparing a Tanzanian meal.—Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Eleven relatives from two countries gather under one sun for a wild (literally) birthday bash. Robinson, author of many acclaimed books about her famous father, Jackie Robinson, writes in this true story about her mother, Rachel (known as Bibi to the grandchildren). Here, she celebrates her 85th birthday on safari in Tanzania with her son and daughter-in-law and their seven children. Though David Robinson (the author's brother) grew up in Connecticut, he has made his home in Tanzania since 1984, making this celebration a rare opportunity for family togetherness. Over its course, readers will absorb a few words of Swahili, the mother tongue of the grandchildren, and also learn about slavery in Tanzania's history. The gazelles, lions, giraffes and elephants the family sees on safari, though, will likely upstage the book's history lessons. Given the number of children and the unfamiliar names of several of them (Nubia, Busaro, Saburi), readers would do well to study the photographs that appear in the backmatter prior to reading the story. In fact, the photographs of the family's shopping for and cooking a Tanzanian meal may appeal to some readers more than Ford's acrylic-and-oil illustrations since they vividly represent the beauty of the country and feature mounds of freshly cut pineapples and heaps of interesting market-fresh fare. A worthwhile snapshot of a family that delights in its international and cross-cultural ties. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 11.20(h) x 1.70(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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.

A recipient of the NAACP Image Award, AG Ford has illustrated many award-winning books for children including GOAL by Mina Javaherbin and the NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller BARACK by Jonah Winter. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

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