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What's the story?
Even staunch fans of baseball may not know the stories of the Negro League. During segregation, gifted African-American athletes created their own league. Beginning in the 1920s, the actions of these hard-working, passionate athletes helped to create the game of baseball as it's played today. Kadir Nelson writes about their struggles and successes and includes the personal anecdotes that truly make history come alive. He writes from the vantage point of an anonymous player to create a stronger sense of intimacy. This decision also gives him sway to personalize and editorialize some of the stories, helping kids understand the context of some of the players' more troublesome behaviors.
Is it any good?
You could take away the fascinating, well-researched text and this book would still be a stand-out. Nelson's paintings showcase the players as the heroes they were and give added emotional heft to their compelling stories. The athletes stand tall and serious, making eye contact with the reader to bring kids into the narrative.
Fortunately Nelson's words do his pictures justice. This is no boring history book -- the narrator has a relaxed way of telling the stories that is sure to interest most kids (and their parents). This is a much needed, beautifully produced book that belongs on the shelves of both baseball fans and history buffs.
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