Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Testing the Ice

If you have read anything about Jackie Robinson, you know of his courage and determination in breaking the color barrier in major league baseball.  Jackie's daughter, Sharon Robinson, has written a picture book that gives an example of how Jackie's courage transferred into other parts of his life. The setting is the Robinson home in Connecticut, where Jackie retired to in 1956 after playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. One of the joys of living in this home was a lake that was a quarter of a mile long.  The neighborhood children enjoyed swimming there, but as Sharon writes "... no matter how much we begged, my dad would never come into the water." During winter, the lake froze and Jackie's three children wanted to ice skate with some friends.  Jackie, in a terrific metaphor for his groundbreaking baseball career, overcame his fear of the water to test the ice before the children could skate.

Sharon Robinson's loving memories of her father combined with the illustrations of the great Kadir Nelson make Testing the Ice a fabulous picture book. Children need to know about Jackie Robinson.  This book would be a wonderful introduction to his life. Sharon Robinson gives us insight into his character outside of baseball, while Nelson's illustrations are works of art.  The portrait of Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson together speaks to their determination to change baseball.

Testing the Ice should be added to your biography collection and would be an excellent text to teach questioning (Why did Jackie decide to go on the ice?) or cause and effect.

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