Dad, Jackie, and Me

9:15 AM Posted by Lori Calabrese

Dad, Jackie, And Me

Author: Myron Uhlberg
Illustrator: Colin Bootman
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Peachtree (March 30, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1561453293
ISBN-13: 978-1561453290

Yesterday, across the backs of every single player, coach and manager on a Major League Field, was the number #42, an extension of the idea Ken Griffey Jr. had two years ago to honor a special athlete. The day was all about Jackie Robinson--a day to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of Robinson sprinting onto the field to play in the Major Leagues, breaking the color barrier. Much like Robinson's impact, the celebration took place nationwide from Queens to Los Angeles.

If you're looking for a great way to share Robinson's story with young readers, you might want to consider Dad, Jackie and Me by Myron Uhlberg. Myron Uhlberg is a prolific author, having published 7 books after his 65th birthday. Most of the storyline is based on some aspect of his life, having been raised by two deaf parents.

The tale is set in Brooklyn in 1947, when a young Dodger fan eagerly anticipates the addition of Jackie Robinson to his team's lineup. But it's about much more than Robinson's debut. It's about prejudice, challenge, and triumph. The boy's father, who is deaf, comes home with two tickets to see the Dodgers play. Though the man has never shown an interest in the sport, soon after the game, the eager-to-learn man grills his son about the sport and about Robinson, and each night attempts to play catch with the boy. After all, the father's world is very similar to Jackie's. The father faces unfair discrimination because of his disability, just as Jackie Robinson faced unfair discrimination for being African-American. When at the ballpark, the boy is at first embarrassed when his father's awkwardness causes stares, but eventually the bond of father and son prevails.

The two begin attending games together and keep a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about Jackie Robinson. The pages are even set up as a scrapbook with actual newspaper clippings on the inside cover, making the historical aspect that more real. Colin Bootman, who earned a Coretta Scott Honor Award for Almost to Freedom (2003), provides watercolor paintings that add to the nostalgia of a historical time. Readers will be thrilled by the book's climax: when Robinson catches a ball to make the last out of the season, he throws the ball to the father, who, for the first time in his life, catches a baseball.
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