Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Greatest Story Never Told: The Babe and Jackie

The Greatest Story Never Told: The Babe and Jackie

Ray Negron
Illustrator:  Laura Seeley 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
HarperCollins, 2008   ISBN: 0061471615

Skippy and Conner are both very sick, and they are sharing a room in a hospital . Skippy has cancer and Conor has diabetes, and the boys are having a terrible fight. When nurse Linda comes to their room and asks them why they are fighting, each boy says that the other is “different” and that this is the reason why they are arguing. Not at all happy with her charges’ behavior Nurse Linda tells the boys to have a nap.

When Skippy and Conor wake up a boy in a striped baseball uniform comes to their room. He is Ray the batboy and he has come to take the boys on a trip. There are a couple of people whom they need to see.

And so Ray, who is clearly more than he appears to be, take the boys to Yankee stadium. After sitting in a special chair, the boys are taken back in time to the days when Babe Ruth was the king of baseball. Skippy and Conner get to meet Babe Ruth and they see him getting criticized for playing against a Negro League team. Later Ray takes them to another baseball game. This time it is 1947 and Jackie Robinson is playing for the Major Leagues for the first time. Skippy and Conner see how Jackie is treated by his fellow players and the crowd, and they also see that Jackie does not let anything stop him from playing. He just keeps on going.

In this picture book the author uses his heroes Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, and George Steinbrenner, to show children that prejudice is a terrible thing. It should never be the wedge that separates two people who could otherwise be friends. Though this is a work of fiction, parts of it are based on fact. Using baseball for the story’s background, Ray Negron finds a way to show his young readers that being “different” is not a bad thing and that prejudice needs to be fought wherever it occurs.