Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dad, Jackie, and Me

Dad, Jackie, and Me

Myron Uhlberg
Illustrator:  Colin Bootman 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Peachtree Publishers, 2005   ISBN: 978-1561453290

It is the first day of the baseball season in 1947 and the boy, like hundreds of other New Yorkers, is listening to the radio to hear how the Dodgers are doing. He, and lots of other fans, is particularly interested to see how Jackie Robinson, the first Negro player to be signed on to a major league baseball team, is faring.

Then one day the boy’s father comes home with tickets to Ebbets Field. The boy’s father is deaf and his tells his son in sign language that he wants to see Jackie Robinson play. So the two of them get on the train and head for Ebbets Field to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play the New York Giants. The boy is a little embarrassed because when his father yells for Jackie with the rest of the fans, his words come out sounding strange and people stare at them.

After that first game the boy’s father really begins to take an interest in baseball and the father and son go to Ebbets Field whenever they can. The boy and father see when Jackie is deliberately picked on by the opposing teams and the boy’s father shouts “NO FAIR!” in support of Jackie. His words encourage the rest of the crowd to support Jackie. Throughout it all Jackie stands tall and does not let the racist behavior of others get to him.

And, in the end, the Dodgers prevail. They win the pennant for that year and the people in Brooklyn celebrate.

In this very special picture book the author not only celebrates the joy that baseball gives a father and his son but he also explores the common ground that a deaf man and a black baseball player have –they are both discriminated against and they both have to rise above the cruelty that they are subjected to. Both men have to prove to the world that they are just as good as everyone else. What makes the story particularly special is that many of the events described in the story really did happen to the author’s father and to the author himself when he was a young boy. Together they watched Jackie Robinson’s career avidly and went to see him play. Together they saw how unfairly he was treated by white players.

At the back of the book readers will find an Author’s Note which tells the story of the author and his father, and which also tells the story of a brave deaf baseball player who had to work very hard to prove himself to the world.

This beautifully written book is complimented by the lovely soft illustrations which fill the pages and which capture the magic of a special year in a young boy’s life.