This promising if not wholly successful paper-over-board volume launches Joe Joe in the City, a series that aims to spotlight issues specific to urban African-American children. In the opener, Joe Joe is mistaken for a member of a gang of kids that has ransacked a white man's store. Shaken, he takes refuge in a library book ab0ut the Negro Baseball Leagues. Inspired by the example of ball player Cool Papa Bell as much as by the prayer he offers up at his father's suggestion, he returns to the store to resolve his anger at the proprietor. The text at times becomes mired in extraneous detail and lengthy exposition, and the art lacks polish; however, the volume addresses a genuine need. Families who face difficulties like Joe Joe's and who draw on faith to surmount them will welcome the reinforcement this book offers. Ages 6-10. (2001) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Joe Joe, a young African-American boy who loves baseball, is given a brand-new book by his friendly neighborhood librarian¾The History of the Negro Baseball Leagues. Before Joe Joe has the chance to read it, however, his grandmother asks him to go to the store for her. A seemingly innocuous trip turns sour when Joe Joe is falsely accused of vandalizing Mr. Booth's store and is told never to return. Joe Joe rushes home and buries himself in his new book, heartbroken. Within its pages, he finds stories of little known heroes of the early 20th century. The courageous tales, along with words of wisdom from his father and a little prayer, inspire Joe Joe to return to the store and explain his point of view. Elster brings to light real-world issues that are present in today's urban society in a manner that children can easily relate to and understand. The story has a light sprinkling of Christian themes that could lead to friction in a sensitive public school setting. Tadgell's illustrations are wonderful, incorporating both drawings and historical photographs. Just Call Me Joe Joe could easily be worked into any social studies curriculum, self-esteem lesson, sports unit, or just a quiet afternoon. 2001, Judson Press,
Gr 1-4-Coincidence puts Joe Joe in the wrong place at the wrong time. After getting a book from the library about the Negro Baseball Leagues, he goes to the store for his grandmother and sees boys from a local gang leaving it. He goes in and starts to clean up the mess they left, but is accused by the white owner of being a participant in the destruction. Shocked at being accused of something he hasn't done, he runs home in tears. His father suggests that his son talk to Mr. Booth and tell him the truth. After reading about Cool Papa, a baseball player who came back to the U.S. from Latin America to play baseball despite the hardships and poor treatment, the child finds the courage to face Mr. Booth, who apologizes to him. Full-page, full-color illustrations on the right face a text on pastel-colored pages. The art is not well executed, and occasionally contradicts the narrative. Look to Gavin Curtis's The Bat Boy and His Violin (S & S, 1998) for a more satisfying tale of an African-American boy and his father who manages a Negro League team.-Kathleen Simonetta, Indian Trails Public Library District, Wheeling, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.