Just as Good: How Larry Doby Changed America’s Game

Chris Crowe, illus. by Mike Benny. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5026-1
While numerous children’s books have been written about Jackie Robinson, this is the first dedicated to another pioneering ballplayer, Larry Doby, who joined the Cleveland Indians 11 weeks after Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Doby became the first African-American player in the American League and, in 1948, he helped the Indians win their first World Series in decades. Crowe (Mississippi Trial, 1945) tells the story of the first game in that World Series matchup through the excited first-person narration of Homer, a young baseball fan who, having been told he can’t play on his local Little League team, is looking to Doby to prove “that our people are just as good in baseball—or anything else—as whites are.” Homer and his parents listen to the game over a newly purchased radio, but readers have a better seat, thanks to Benny’s (The Listeners) atmospheric acrylic paintings, which shift between closeups of the ballpark action and Homer’s family’s elated reactions at home. A straightforward but nonetheless inspirational story of barriers being broken down, one slow step at a time. Ages 6–10. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/2011
Release date: 01/24/2012
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