The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend

Sharon Robinson. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-545-80451-6

Robinson takes a fictional approach to the subject of her famous father, Jackie Robinson. It unfolds in the voice of Steve Satlow, who was eight when the Robinsons moved onto his predominately Jewish street in Brooklyn in 1948 (Steve and his family also featured prominently in Robinson’s 2010 picture book, Jackie’s Gift). The story is relayed in flashback, triggered by 20-year-old Steve’s discovery of a ticket stub from the ’48 Brooklyn Dodgers’ home opener in a box of “boyhood treasures” that his recently deceased father left him. Steve’s impatience to meet his baseball idol and new neighbor (which finally takes place more than a third of the way in) grows repetitive, but the story’s energy builds once Robinson is in the picture. Segues into political and humanitarian issues can get heavy-handed (“Prejudice,” Steve’s father explains, “is when you judge a person based on the color of their skin and not by their character”), but play-by-play baseball action will hold fans’ attention, and Steve’s struggle to curb his impulsiveness and fit in with his peers will register with many. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)