cover image Stealing Home: Jackie Robinson: Against the Odds

Stealing Home: Jackie Robinson: Against the Odds

Robert Burleigh, , illus. by Mike Wimmer. . S&S/Wiseman, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-86276-2

In this engaging, multilayered collaboration, the creators of Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth pay well-deserved tribute to another baseball legend. Burleigh employs two narrative voices, one a spare, lyrical moment-by-moment replay of Robinson's bold steal home from third base in the first game of the 1955 World Series against the New York Yankees. Identifying the player only as "number 42," the unseen narrator, adopting the tone of an impassioned sportscaster, tells how the Yankee pitcher goes into a slow windup, "darting a quick glance sideways, where the base runner starts and stops cold and starts again, bursting suddenly in two strides from absolute stillness to full speed." Historical sidebars on each spread supplement this dramatic, immediate account, providing anecdotes about the era, Robinson's struggles (including Branch Rickey's famous question to the player about the inevitable racial taunts he would receive: "Can you take it—and not fight back?") plus highlights of his baseball career (best season, rookie of the year, MVP, etc.) and personal life. Wimmer's textured, animated oil paintings depict the game action at close range and with lifelike clarity. The art deftly intensifies the emotion of Robinson's home-stealing triumph, revealing the deep concentration and resolve of the ballplayers on both teams, the anticipation of the spectators and the gratification of fans and Dodgers alike after Robinson makes it home safely. Ages 6-9. (Jan.)