We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

by Kadir Nelson


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786808328
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication date: 01/08/2008
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 61,474
Product dimensions: 11.30(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Kadir Nelson's paintings have been exhibited in many galleries and museums around the world, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Museum of Tolerance, and the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences in Los Angeles; the Museum of African American History in Detroit; the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum in Washington D.C.; and the Society of Illustrators and the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York, as well as many others.

Nelson is the illustrator of many books for children. Among the best known are Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, an NAACP Image Award winner, a Caldecott Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner; Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner; Please, Baby, Please and Please, Puppy, Please, by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee; and Will Smith's Just the Two of Us, also an NAACP Image Award winner. We Are the Ship is the first book Nelson has written and illustrated.

Kadir Nelson lives with his family in California. Visit his Web site, www.kadirnelson.com.

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We Are the Ship 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
SJKessel More than 1 year ago
Nelson, K. (2008). We Are the Ship: The story of the negro league baseball. New York: Jump at the Sun. 0786808322 We Are the Ship uses a unique voice to share the experiences of African Americans who were unofficially not allowed to participate in the white baseball leagues and instead set out and formed their own league. This award-winning book has been honored not only for the information it shares but also for the paintings that are featured throughout the book. Many interesting facts are also included. My favorite chapter, or inning as they're called in this book, is the second inning, "A Different Brand of Baseball." Which shares many of the quirky happenings that separated the negro league from others and made the games especially interesting.-one player caught balls while resting in a rocking chair, another would pretend to read the newspaper. You get the idea. This unusual fully-illustrated information book, includes a unique narrative voice that asserts having experienced the negro baseball leagues of the first part of the twentieth century. It also assumes blackness on the part of the reader and draws comparisons between then and now when it comes to the way baseball is played. A cross between a picture and chapter book, this book may especially appeal to reluctant readers who love baseball. If the student declares him or herself "too old for picturebooks" a teacher could reinforce the fact that there are many interesting sports facts they won't be able to find anywhere else. While this book may be intended for boys, I still think the lack of women described is worthy of complaint. (It does manage to incorporate information about some of the central American leagues, but is completely silent about women players). The only woman mentioned at all is Effa Manley who owned the Newark Eagles with her husband. There were, however, a few mentions of women in general: 1. "Women have always loved ballplayers, you know" (p. 34). 2. "Latin women sure were pleasing to the eye" (p. 53). 3. In bigger cities "ladies' night" games would include beauty or swimsuit contests (p. 66). What about the women who were married to the league members? The mothers? Daughters? Were they not worthy of a mention? Ever? As a woman who has yet to love a baseball player, know any woman who has loved a baseball player (historically or presently) and who enjoys being a sex object more than ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD (it's why I get up in the morning, dress professionally and conservatively and then go off and teach children's literature), I'm vaguely offended by all of this. The narrator, who consistently speaks of 'us' and 'we' in the voice of an old school black ballplayer, apparently meant 'not women' and 'not me' in that 'us'. As if women haven't already been excluded from enough sports conversations and leagues historically. You kinda dropped the ball there, Kadir Nelson. Rant over, I promise. Activities to do with the book: This information book could be used to flesh out a lesson about the history of sports or a lesson about segregation, structural and personal. The story could be used as an example of writing that has a strong voice and could be a model for students to create their own writing voices and narrators. For more of my reviews, visit sjkessel.blogspot.com.
shelf-employed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you have ever watched Ken Burns' landmark documentary, Baseball, then you will have heard of the Negro Leagues. In fact, it was Burns' documentary that inspired author and artist, Kadir Nelson, to create We are the Ship, to document the rise and fall of America's all-black baseball league.The story is told, appropriately, not in chapters, but in "innings," beginning with the exclusion of blacks from major league baseball and ending with the bittersweet success of Jackie Robinson - bittersweet because while it opened baseball to other black players, it also signaled the death knell of the Negro Leagues.The Negro League teams had more than just colorful baseball players, they had a colorful style of play - faster, looser and more inventive than that of MLB. "There was a catcher, Chappy Gray, who used to catch Satchel when he was in his prime. One time they were playing in Enid, Oklahoma. By the time the game got up into late innings, it started to get kinda dark. So Chappy told Satchel, 'Hey, Satchel, you got two strikes on this hitter. Man, you throwin' the ball so hard, I can't see it too well and I don't want to break my finger. I'll tell you what you do. You wind up like you are going to throw the ball and I'll hit my fist in my mitt, make it sound like it's the ball. Man, nobody'll know the difference. ... Satchel said, 'Okay, I'll do that.' So he went back out there and he wound up and came down with that long stride, big follow-through. Chappy hit his fist in his mitt, and the umpire yelled, 'Strike three!' That hitter was so mad, he threw his bat down. He yelled at the umpire, 'You blind, Tom?! Anybody who could see knows that ball was high and outside!'"The chapters, or "innings" are each compelling parts of the whole game, seamlessly weaving history, baseball and personalities. Although segregation is a great part of the Negro League story, We are the Ship is an uplifting book, highlighting a love of baseball and a can-do spirit.Nelson's paintings are beautiful and lifelike depictions of a bygone era and some of baseball's greatest players. There is a double-spread foldout depicting the first Colored World Series in 1924.The book concludes with Negro Leaguers Who Made it to the Major Leagues (count Hank Aaron among these!), Negro Leaguers in the National Baseball Hall of Fame (including Satchel Paige and Smokey Joe Williams), an Author's Note, Acknowledgments, Bibliography, Filmography, Endnotes and Index.My only complaint with this book was the author's stated choice to write the story in the collective "we" voice. It helps to place the reader firmly inside the story, however, as a history buff and baseball fan, I spent the entire book wondering "who" was speaking. Only in the Author's Note did I discover that, although a true story, the "voice" is a fictional "we." This minor complaint will probably go unnoticed by most readers however, and certainly does not detract from the story.This picture book for older readers is highly recommended.
rpultusk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This history of Negro League Baseball is told from an anonymous "Everyman" perspective and details the beginnings of the league in the 1920s through its end in the late 1940s when Jackie Robinson crossed over to the Major League. The artistry of the book is absolutely incredible. The illustrations are oil paintings and contain exquisite detail. The book also contains biographical information on all of the significant figures from the League.In addition to the paintings, the book itself is quite aesthetically pleasing. Nelson incorporates significant quotations in creative ways. The style of the book includes a variety of page layouts, including a particularly wonderful fold-out of a ticket from the first World Series that opens to a detailed portrait of the players on both teams.The book is written for middle school students and above. It is long and not designed to be read aloud as a picture book.Highly recommended for elementary, middle, and high school libraries.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This beautifully illustrated book chronicles the rise and fall of Negro League Baseball. Full-page paintings give you a real look at some of the most talented baseball players of their time (and possibly of any time). The writing is also awesome. Using a collective "we", Kadir Nelson speaks with the voice of all Negro League players, like he's been there and seen everything that he talks about. He uses a very conversational tone, like you were sitting on the back porch with any one of the players and talking about the things he'd seen. Unfortunately, many of the Negro League players seem to have been lost over the passage of time. That makes this a very important book, a look at a neglected history. And that's why it surprised me so much that the women who played in the Negro League were not mentioned at all. I would have given this book a much higher rating, but it seems a glaring omission to me. Albeit, most of the action wraps up around 1945 when Jackie Robinson signed with the Major Leagues. And Mamie Johnson, Toni Stone, and Connie Morgan didn't join the league until somewhere around 1953. But it still seems like Nelson is doing to the women players what white people did to the African-American players... by neglecting to mention them, he's effectively erasing them from history. The subtitle of the book proclaims it to be "the story of Negro League Baseball". Why aren't women a part of that story?
anokaberry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As the major leagues open their seasons again this week, this book renews our faith in the poetry of the game, the beauty of the players, and the vitality and fervent dedication of the fan. An unforgettable book. An introduction or reminder of the greatest names in baseball and their part in the struggle that continues for equality and human dignity in our day. The art is stunning, an exhibition in a book. Thank You, Kadir.
sweetiegherkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kadir Nelson, award-winning illustrator of children¿s books, takes his first crack at writing one with We are the Ship. The result is impressive. Of course, as would be expected from Nelson, the illustrations are phenomenal ¿ beautifully depicted realistic paintings with almost three-dimensional subjects. The book is a well-researched narrative of the Negro Leagues -- baseball teams formed, owned, and populated with African-Americans who were denied access to major league baseball because of racial segregation. This narrative is divided into ten sections ¿ nine ¿innings¿ plus a final short chapter called ¿extra innings.¿ Nelson narrates using ¿we,¿ as if he stood shoulder to shoulder with these ball players, to make this history feel intimate and personal. He includes interesting tidbits, such as personal details about players, to make the tale even more engaging and lively. He backs everything up with an extensive bibliography and end notes. My only caveat is that there is a lot of text in what looks a picture book, so this book isn¿t appropriate for very young children with short attention spans. However, older children and even adults will enjoy this book.
richiespicks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Richie's Picks: WE ARE THE SHIP: THE STORY OF NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL by Kadir Nelson, Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, January 2008, 88p., ISBN: 0-7868-0832-2 "We didn't really know how rough it was in the Negro Leagues until some of our guys went up to the majors. Play was a lot 'nicer' there. In our league, everything was legal. We would do whatever it took to win. Pitchers threw anything and everything. Spitters, shine-balls, emery balls, cut balls -- you name it. They cut that ball to pieces and had curveballs breaking about six feet! Throw a new white ball to the pitcher, and it would come back brown from all the tobacco juice and what-have-you. You never knew what the ball was going to do once it left the pitcher's hand. And throwing at the batter was common. The pitcher would knock you down just to mess with your head. Look up at the umpire, and he'd just say. 'Get up and play ball, son.' That's why the batting helmet was invented. When Willie Wells was just a rookie, he found the ball was making its way toward his head a little more often than he liked, so he decided to wear an old miner's helmet when he stepped up to the plate. Boy, did they laugh at him! But today, you won't find a ballgame played without batting helmets." A lot of hurt resulted from the evils of segregation in America. But when it came to so-called "black" music and "white" music, wasn't it ignorant whites who got the short end of the stick if they failed to experience the music being created by Black Americans whether it be the musicians of the Harlem Renaissance or Marian Anderson or 'Train and Miles or the stars of Motown or George Clinton or Tupac? "Oscar Charleston was a mean son-of-a-gun. He would just about go looking for trouble. One time he snatched the hood off a Ku Klux Klansman." Sure, there were a host of indignities experienced by the black Americans who took the field in Negro League Baseball and then had to find places to eat, sleep, shower, and pee. Kadir Nelson does an excellent job of illuminating those difficulties. But after reading WE ARE THE SHIP, there is no doubt that -- just as with the music -- those who wasted opportunities to experience Negro League Baseball were the ones who was poorer for it. WE ARE THE SHIP is a raucous, joyous, visual and textual celebration of Negro League Baseball that will leave its readers wishing that there was a stash of vintage film somewhere that we might all have a chance to view the long-ago hijinks and incredible skills of black ballplayers who were every bit as good and better than the white guys in the so-called major leagues. America did belatedly got a look at a number of veteran Negro League stars who were eventually permitted to join the majors. Unfortunately, in contrast to the few like Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella who got to spend many of their prime years in the majors, the majority of the stars whom we meet in WE ARE THE SHIP were either too old to follow Jackie there or merely got to play out their final years, long beyond their best seasons and the heroics (and antics) that Kadir Nelson speaks of here. "Umpiring wasn't always that great, either. Some of those guys wouldn't have known a strike from their left foot. At one time, the league had official umpires, but they couldn't travel with the teams. It was too expensive. A few of the umpires were former players. Pop Lloyd and Wilber 'Bullet' Rogan used to ump later on in their careers. Those guys were tough. They had to be, with guys like Oscar Charleston and Jud Wilson in the league. At one game in Kansas City, there were three umpires. Rogan was behind home plate, and the other two were at first and third. A play took place at third base, and Rogan ran down the line. He called the man out, and the base umpire called him safe. They started to argue and got into a fight. Bullet Rogan pulled out a knife, and the other guy panicked and took off running toward the center-field fence and climbed o
CChristophersen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story of the Negro Baseball League. It tells of the athletes and their stories. There is discrimination, segregation, and the affects of these conditions on these men who wanted to play baseball. The author shares the rich history of the league from the 1920's through it's eventual decline. The reader can get to know some of these great players.
dcarlill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wrtten in a clever manner in that the chapters are not really chapters, but innings. Each focuses on a player in the Negro league and the impact on baseball. Overall it shows the love of the American past time, baseball although segregation, bigotry and differences are addressed.
amanda_c on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Quality:Author-illustrator Kadir Nelson¿s stunning paintings and deftly approachable narration in colloquial speech make this history of the Negro Baseball Leagues a non-fiction children¿s book of the highest quality.Potential Use:This book would be an excellent resource for any school library, a boon to lesson plans, and a gift to any child interested in the history of baseball.Child Appeal::Nelson doesn¿t just bring Negro League greats to life, he imbues these decades-old sports heroes a sense of stone-faced cool that should appeal to any baseball-loving child at a time when modern heroes in the sport are lamentably scarce.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't know which I enjoyed more in this book, the evocative voice, or the vivid artwork. Nelson chose to tell the story of Nego league baseball using an every-player voice, instead of a dry history you're listening to a player telling stories about the people he met and things he saw while playing with the legends of the Negro league.But the paintings have such a sense of richness and personality - even in team portraits individuals jump off the page with liveliness.I'd give this book to someone interested in baseball, civil rights, or art.
victorianist on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I gave this book five stars for the rich, emotional and gorgeous illustrations and for Kadir's affectionate view of baseball.
MaowangVater on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Using the voice of an unnamed player Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its end in 1960. In his oil paintings he gives every player¿s portrait a bearing, as if the viewer is looking up at an exquisitely colored monumental statue of the man.
EdGoldberg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kadir Nelson, through interviews with some of the Negro League greats, has put together a wonderful book about the Negro Leagues. It tells the story of many of the players, some of whom went on to stardom in the Major Leagues. It tells of the prejudice exhibited to many of the players by whites, while at the same time they crowded the stadiums to watch them play. It also tells of some comraderie between white and black players.For anyone interested in baseball, Majors, Minors, Negro League, etc, this is a must read. The history of baseball is incomplete without understanding the Negro League.
AndreaGough on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
5Q4P- Kadir Nelson relates the story of the negro baseballs leagues, from inception to demise in easy to understand yet detailed prose. Full pages packed with small print text are faced with full page illustrations. As per usual, Nelson's paintings are vivid and atmospheric, true works of art that perfectly accompany the text.- Recommended for ages 8- 13.- Not explained by radical change.
readasaurus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kadir Nelson's paintings are absolutely breathtaking and make this book a must-have for any school library. Nelson's comprehensive account of Negro League Baseball tells the tales of the major players as well as the lesser known ones. This would be a great resource for units on civil rights, black history, or even during gym class! The stories are relatively short, so a students could read one in a class period. The themes of discrimination, overcoming obstacles, teamwork, and the love of the game resonate throughout. The images will hook the kids and the stories will keep them there.
jebrou on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kadir Nelson uses a first-person, "everyman" narrator to tell the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its decline after Jackie Robinson moved to the majors in 1947. Nelson accompanies his informational text with dozens of full-page and double-page oil paintings. Each illustration captures the strength and determination of the men who fought against all odds, including discrimination and prejudice, to achieve greatness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book for my brother-in-law. He has greatly enjoyed it. The fact that is is written as a narrrative make it an enjoyable experience of the history of the sport. Kadir Nelson is truely a great illustrator!
NaomiCamacho More than 1 year ago
At first, I wasn't too excited to read about baseball, but after the first few pages, it hooked me. The book was filled with interesting facts and tons of great pictures to go along with the chapters. I like how the book was put together, each chapter named after an inning in the game. Even though this was a different culture than mine, they also talked about the Latin American ballplayers and how they too had an effect on the negro baseball league. This book taught me a lot of new things in a fun and interesting way. I'd say it'd be a must read for any baseball fan out there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Negroes had many troubles that they had to deal with. One of the troubles was trying to be heard in the major leagues for baseball. This book explains the troubles that these very talented boys had to go through to get where they are today. I love how this book explains stories; it felt like your grandpa was just sitting down talking to you about the "good ol' days". I loved reading about how they just worked hard for their passion, even if it was leaving their home for months to play in Puerto Rico. This book explains what it was like to actually try your hardest to chase your dream. The illustrations were very colorful and eye-catching also; they made when want to keep on turning the page to see what picture would be next. When I first picked up this book I didn't know how I would like it but now that I have read it, it makes me appreciate the history of baseball a little more. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did! Mar3305
I-Got-Seoul More than 1 year ago
This 2009 Orbis book winner is a book that must be added to every collection. It describes a part of American history in an entertaining way. There were many instances when I caught myself laughing as I read. Kadir Nelson's writing almost talks to the readers because his technique is liken to an elderly man reminiscing about the days gone past. I imagined myself sitting on the bleachers in an empty baseball field listening to this man tell me about how life was, and how much it has changed. Nelson's artistic illustrations are portraits of all the African American men who took in the Negro baseballs leagues. The pictures are beautiful on context and color. We are the Ship is an integral part of history that changed not only the way the game was played, but how African Americans made those changes. --FTD
EdNY More than 1 year ago
Kadir Nelson, through interviews with some of the Negro League greats, has put together a wonderful book about the Negro Leagues. It tells the story of many of the players, some of whom went on to stardom in the Major Leagues. It tells of the prejudice exhibited to many of the players by whites, while at the same time they crowded the stadiums to watch them play. It also tells of some comraderie between white and black players. For anyone interested in baseball, Majors, Minors, Negro League, etc, this is a must read. The history of baseball is incomplete without understanding the Negro League.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
*Beautiful, detailed illustrations in this book will draw the reader in.**Wonderful, rich history of the baseball leagues for the young to enjoy.**Inspiring life experiences to learn about the "greats" of baseball's past. If you like this book, We Are The Ship, then consider, Black Diamonds: Life in the Negro Leagues from the Men Who Lived It by John B. Holway as well as Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues by Patricia C. McKissack; these two books maybe of interest to you also. Favorable review for this book: fun, educational, informative, and inspiring reading.