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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We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson

"We are the ship; all else the sea."-Rube Foster, founder of the Negro National League

The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball.

Using an "Everyman" player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. The voice is so authentic, you will feel as if you are sitting on dusty bleachers listening intently to the memories of a man who has known the great ballplayers of that time and shared their experiences. But what makes this book so outstanding are the dozens of full-page and double-page oil paintings-breathtaking in their perspectives, rich in emotion, and created with understanding and affection for these lost heroes of our national game.

We Are the Ship is a tour de force for baseball lovers of all ages.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786808328
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: 01/08/2008
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 82,856
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 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 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.
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the book "We are the ship" it gives many very informative experiences of old African American baseball players who played in the Negro Leagues. Throughout this book it gives a first hand perspective of what the players of that time had to go through just to do something they loved. The book also informs the read of many different ways that the Negro Leagues impacted the Major Leagues, from equipment to styles of playing. Being a fan of baseball I found this book a great read and very educational about baseball history.
Novelwriter47 More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written and illustrated history of the Negro baseball leagues. A great sports story that also says much about racism and the USA. Kids love it, but I learned a lot from it, also. Recommended by my son who is a copious reader and teaches 4th grade GT students -- he keeps tabs on what grabs the kids and is also of excellent quality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The pictures are amazing, and relate well to the story line. Fabulous book no matter what the age
allackner More than 1 year ago
As a collector of over 1,000 Baseball books, I must say this book is the "jewel" of the collection. The illustrations of Kadir Nelson and (for the first time) and his writing is superb. I've have given this book to many of my friends. Al Lackner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms_Chelle More than 1 year ago
I bought this for a gift for a young father who loves baseball to share with his son. the illustrations are Kadir Nelson at his best. The story is so moving and with the illustrations this is the most beautiful book.
I highly recommend this for gift giving and for your own library too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The pictures are really wonderful. There are a few issues with the artwork. The latino section, page 54, has a partial page illustration. That may leave some latinos under-impressed. Most of the artwork does not match the text on the oppposite page. It would have been better to use more than one person in the illustration pages to better fit the text. Mr. Nelson decided to place the names of the players in the illustrations on the text page, instead of on the actual illustration page. That could be confusing to some people. There are way too many run on sentences and incomplete phrases throughout the book. Remember when we learned to write in school, "Do not begin sentences with 'and' or 'but'!" Many of the concepts, due to the informal language useage, are not clearly explained for most of the children today. It would have benefitted significantly from vocabulary definitions of all of the colloquial language used. Alternatively, more common word usage would have been much better. This book should have been aimed at all people, regardless of age, and not a select few. There are no good explanations or references regarding all of the famous performers who attended the games. Few children today know who these people are, were or why they were important at the time. There are way too many words for younger children to comprehend without extensive explanation by an adult. This picture book design is great for the artwork alone. Do not buy it for the writing. You would have to carefully read and rewrite or paraphrase if sharing with younger children. There is a small bibliography, unattractive endnotes pages, and a fair index included. There are no websites suggested, which is unfortunate for today's world. It is also unfortunate that this book was nominated for a Texas Bluebonnet Award. The writing is difficult for the targeted age group, grades 3-6. Artwork alone is not enough for this book to win.