Monday, February 4, 2008

Nonfiction Monday: We are the Ship

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
Written and Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Jump at the Sun, 2008

I love baseball, and I really admire Kadir Nelson, so when these two wonderful entities came together as a book, I had to have it. This is Kadir Nelson’s first book that he has written and illustrated. He is a fabulous illustrator, and now we now he is a wonderful writer.

We Are the Ship is nonfiction, complete with footnotes, bibliography, and author’s note. It is meticulously researched and well written. It is the size of a normal picture book, but much lengthier and for an older audience. Hank Aaron wrote the foreword. The book is divided into chapters designated as “innings”. The illustrations are spread throughout the book. Some illustrations are only one page with text on the opposite page. Other illustrations are full spreads, and one illustration is a four page pull-out. ALL of the illustrations are stunning. This is Kadir Nelson at his very best.

The book is packed full of history and is told from an unnamed narrator, but the reader gets the feeling that you are sitting at the feet of a wise baseball historian telling you everything they know about the history of the Negro Leagues. It is told like the narrator was part of the Negro Leagues as he refers to “we” and “us” throughout the book. Nelson has managed to tell the history—the good and the bad—of life in the Negro Leagues. Despite the horrible way black players were treated, the segregation they faced, they still loved to play the game of baseball and felt privileged to have been given the opportunity.

I have high hopes for this book and for Kadir Nelson. I’m sure the Coretta Scott King committee will recognize this book, but I also hope that NCTE’s Orbis Pictus and ALA’s Sibert Committees will recognize this book too.

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