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Jackie's Bat
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Jackie's Bat

by Marybeth Lorbiecki, Brian Pinkney (Illustrator)

Superstars hit the big leagues! Two-time Caldecott Honor artist Brian Pinkney and award-winning author Marybeth Lorbiecki take the field in this carefully crafted, fictionalized account of how Jackie Robinson broke through professional baseball's color barrier.


Superstars hit the big leagues! Two-time Caldecott Honor artist Brian Pinkney and award-winning author Marybeth Lorbiecki take the field in this carefully crafted, fictionalized account of how Jackie Robinson broke through professional baseball's color barrier.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I had two distinct reactions to Jackie's Bat. First, it is an engaging story well told, and a clear message for children who have been taught to discriminate. My second and most powerful reaction is dismay over the continuing need to address the damage done to children as prejudice and racism taint their world and perceptions.
It is my hope that young readers, with adult encouragement, will be inspired to sense the need for change within themselves and their families, or will feel proud of their enlightened attitudes.
Congratulations...for celebrating Jack's life and legacy so beautifully."
— Rachel Robinson, wife of the late great Jackie Robinson and founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation
Publishers Weekly
Narrated by the Brooklyn Dodgers' white batboy, Joey, Lorbiecki's (Sister Anne's Hands) heartwarming tale set in 1947 tells two parallel stories. The first is Jackie Robinson's difficult but ultimately triumphant first season in the major leagues, and the other is Joey's challenging, but also triumphant, battle against his own racism. With understated simplicity, Joey recounts the numerous indignities Robinson endures: taunts from opposing teams, pitchers aiming at him, hate mail, separate hotels and some insults inflicted by the batboy himself (e.g., Joey cleans the shoes of every player except Robinson because, the boy thinks to himself, "Pops says it ain't right,/ a white boy serving a black man"). Robinson confronts Joey: "There's people out there who don't/ treat me as a man 'cause my skin is black/.... They don't know what a man is." Joey chronicles Robinson's gradual progression from outsider to "one of the guys" as his teammates start defending and working with him. Foreground figures appear outlined in thick brushstrokes in Pinkney's full-bleed spreads, while background structures and people appear in paler lines and impressionistic dabs of color. The final scenes depict Robinson offering Joey his hand to shake, "one Dodger to another," and Pops wearing an "I'm for Jackie" button, saying, "That man's earned his place in history." These moments give added emotional weight to this straightforward but often moving re-imagining of how an American hero's struggle and achievement helped transform a nation. Ages 5-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This fictionalized account of Jackie Robinson's first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers is told from the possible viewpoint of a young white batboy. Joey had been attending games since he was tiny, but he knows that this 1947 season is going to be the best ever for him. He gets to go right into the locker room. When Robinson arrives, Joey points out the folding chair and nail assigned to him instead of a locker. Then Joey continues on with his tasks of distributing uniforms and polishing shoes. He skips one pair, however. His dad has told him that it is just not right for a white person to be of any service to a black man. Historic incidents from the season are related from Joey's viewpoint as he comes to respect and then to truly like Jackie Robinson. Robinson is depicted as a proficient ball player who is determined to maintain his own self respect, as he earns the admiration of others. An "Afterword" summarizes Robinson's many accomplishments and honors. A "Note from the Author" authenticates Robinson's personal perseverance in continuing on with baseball in spite of initial rejection by his teammates, death threats, and hate mail. Pinkney's watercolor illustrations resemble sketches, with featured figures outlined in black in the foreground and impressionist swaths of color in the background. A fitting and worthy tribute to this brave pioneer in the field of baseball. 2006, Simon & Schuster, Ages 5 to 8.
—Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-A fictionalized account of Robinson's first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, as seen through the eyes of Joey, a batboy. He has attended games with his father since he was a toddler, and he's been a fan of "dem bums" for years. He meets the star player in the locker room on Robinson's first day as a Dodger, and though the man is friendly, Joey remembers that Pops says, "it ain't right, a white boy serving a black man." He gives the first baseman the cold shoulder and refuses to clean his shoes as he does for the other players. As Joey watches Robinson endure the prejudice of fans and players on other teams, he comes to admire him both as a ballplayer and a man. Eventually, both the boy and Pops admit that he "earned his place in history." An afterword gives more information on Robinson's career and legacy. Pinkney's watercolor illustrations, awash in bright hues and expressive details, enliven the characters with sinewy, curvaceous lines. The slight story is saddled with a simplistic ending, but it merits praise as a thoughtful lesson in tolerance; teachers, in particular, will appreciate it as a jumpstart for discussion.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Joey is the batboy for the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers, and he is unsure of how to deal with Jackie Robinson. His father says that a white boy shouldn't have to serve a black man. So he doesn't shine Jackie's shoes, and he ignores his requests. As the season progresses, Joey notes the changing reactions of Jackie's teammates, players on the other teams and the fans around the league, both black and white. He comes to admire and cheer Jackie's patience and talent and to respect him as a man. Telling the story from Joey's point of view and the use of the immediate present tense places the focus on Robinson's impact on peoples' hearts and minds. Pinkney's watercolor illustrations also focus on the characters, with backgrounds softly sketched. An afterword and author's note give additional information about Robinson's character and life after baseball. A gentle message about the insidious nature of racism. (Picture book. 6-9)

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Marybeth Lorbiecki is the aclaimed author of numerous picture books, including the poignant and controversial Just One Flick of a Finger, illustrated by David Diaz,and Sister Anne's Hands. This is her first book for Simon and Schuster. She resides in Hudson, Wisconsin.

Brian Pinkney has illustrated numerous acclaimed books for children, including Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song; On the Ball; The Faithful Friend; Duke Ellington; and In the Time of the Drums. His many awards include two Caldecott Honors, a Coretta Scott King Illustration Award, four Coretta Scott King Illustration Honors, and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. Brian lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and frequent collaborator, Andrea Davis Pinkney. Visit him at BrianPinkney.net.

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