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

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I posted a lengthier review of this book on my blog today, which can be found here:

Some readers will be familiar with Kadir Nelson's illustrations for a number of picture books, including Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford and Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine. But in We Are The Ship, Nelson has provided not just the pictures, but also the words.

Using a first-person plural narrator (who talks of "we" and "us" in a colloquial tone reminiscent of old Negro League ballplayers), Nelson explains the history of baseball and of the development of the Negro Leagues, as well as providing accounts of the treatment received by players in the Negro Leagues (at games, while traveling, and at the hands of their own team managers). The book is ten chapters long (1st - 9th inning, plus "extra innings"), with a foreword by Hall of Famer Hank Aaron. There's a bibliography, a filmography, and end notes as well as an index.

Nelson really payed attention to the details, and a reader of this book will not only learn facts, but will, to an extent, "feel" what it was like to be a player in the Negro Leagues (both the good and bad aspects), in the same way that Russell Freedman's marvelous "The Voice that Challenged a Nation" brought home what segregation and racism felt like for Marian Anderson (at least in part).

A must-purchase for libraries, baseball fans, and folks interested in nonfiction about the development of the Civil Rights Movement.
#1 - January 21, 2008, 06:03 PM


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