We Are The Ship

1:54 AM Posted by Lori Calabrese

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

Author/ Illustrator: Kadir Nelson.
Publisher: Jump at the Sun/ Hyperion, January 2008
Reading Level: Ages 9 and up

Illustrator and first time author, Kadir Nelson brings us this magnificent book on the story of Negro League Baseball. As long as there has been baseball in America, there have been African-American ballplayers. Rube Foster was the founder of the Negro National League and said of his men, "We are the ship: all else the sea." On February 20, 1920, Rube Foster called together the owners of African-American baseball teams and the Negro National League was formed. This book is jam packed with information and facts about the men who played the sport, the hardships they faced, including the low pay and the dangers of playing in the South, and also, the great plays, crazy rules, and the stars that broke out. I have a new respect for the players in the Negro League after reading this book because of things like, "...throwing at a 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." The book climaxes with Jackie Robinson making it into Major League Baseball, thus the end of the Negro League, but Nelson's story will leave a lasting impression with you.

Hank Aaron writes the foreword and says he's grateful for Kadir's fresh approach. We should ALL be grateful for Kadir's fresh approach, and his desire to share the story of a group of men that changed the sport of baseball and made it what it is today. After reading this again for the Cybils, I fell even more in love with it. The voice that it is written in is truly unique and makes you feel as though you're sitting alongside a group of old players reminiscing about the glory days. This book is unlike any other and each illustration makes you feel as though you're in the heart of the action. Kadir has been drawing since the age of three, and painting since the age of ten and that's evident in his amazing illustrations.

Visit Kadir Nelson's website. It's worth a visit to see his amazing gallery and if you're interested, Nelson offers limited edition prints from this book. Visit the NPR website for an interesting interview with Kadir Nelson. He states that this book took him nearly eight years to complete and it offers an excerpt from the book.
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