for We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson
“Seems like we’ve been playing baseball for a mighty long time. At least as long as we’ve been free. Baseball’s the best game there ever was. It’s a beautifully designed game that requires a quick wit, a strong body, and a cool head.” So says “Everyman,” the narrator and history teller in this impressive work. The strong love for baseball that pulses through the text is matched by a passion for the history of the Negro Leagues. As the narrator recounts important games and discriminatory attitudes, he also enlivens memories of key players and their personalities and evokes a stirring sense of place—be it on a baseball diamond shimmering in the heat, on a rowdy bus ride, or in the midst of a heated conversation between game officials. The book’s title comes from Rube Foster, founder of the Negro National League, who stated, “We are the ship; all else the sea,” in reference to the creation of a separate organization for Black baseball players. Likewise, Kadir Nelson’s We Are the Ship is a bold and triumphant declaration expressed through vivid narration and breathtaking oil paintings rich in color and emotion. (Age 10 and older)
CCBC Choices 2009. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2009. Used with permission.
"We are the ship; all else the sea."-Rube Foster, founder of the Negro National League
The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball.
Using an "Everyman" player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. The voice is so authentic, you will feel as if you are sitting on dusty bleachers listening intently to the memories of a man who has known the great ballplayers of that time and shared their experiences. But what makes this book so outstanding are the dozens of full-page and double-page oil paintings-breathtaking in their perspectives, rich in emotion, and created with understanding and affection for these lost heroes of our national game.
We Are the Ship is a tour de force for baseball lovers of all ages.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.