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Teammates
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About the Author

Peter Golenbock is a well-known writer of books about sports, espcecially baseball. He lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Paul Bacon also illustrated Susanna of the Alamo. He lives in Clintondale, New York.

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Set in 1947, Teammates concerns a little-known episode about Brooklyn Dodgers' second baseman Jackie Robinson and the integration of baseball. When Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese, incensed by the abuse coming from a Cincinnati crowd, determined to ``take a stand,'' he put an arm around his teammate's shoulder; this simple gesture symbolized the end of the ``color line'' in major league baseball--and the beginning of a great friendship. The book's appropriately ironic beginning talks of a time ``when automobiles were black and looked like tanks and laundry was white and hung on clotheslines to dry.'' Golenbock then introduces the Negro Leagues, enumerates the many differences between them and the Major Leagues, and credits Dodger general manager Branch Rickey with finding ``one special man'' who would exemplify great ballplaying and thereby eradicate the prejudices of the fans. Golenbock's bold and lucid style distills this difficult issue, and brings a dramatic tale vividly to life. Bacon's spare, nostalgic watercolors, in addition to providing fond glimpses of baseball lore, present a haunting portrait of one man's isolation. Historic photographs of the major characters add interest and a touch of stark reality to an unusual story, beautifully rendered. Ages 6-9. (Mar.)

K-Gr 6-- Golenbock has taken a single moment of baseball history, set it in its social context, and created a simple and moving tribute to courage and brotherhood. While other biographies of Robinson, and Robinson himself in I Never Had It Made (Putnam, 1972; o.p.), set the incident in Boston, Golenbock places it in Cincinnati, near Reese's Kentucky home. The event occurred during Jackie Robinson's first season with the Dodgers. Listening to the hatred that spilled out of the stands, Pee Wee Reese left his position at shortstop, walked over to Robinson at first base, put his around Robinson's shoulder, chatted for a few moments, and then returned to his position. The crowd was stunned into silence. Bacon has illustrated the book with an effective blend of photographs and drawings. Golenbock briefly but clearly describes the background of Robinson's entry into the National League, as well as Reese's background as a southerner and as the player with the most to fear if Robinson were successful--both men were shortstops (although Robinson would ultimately play second base). There have been several recent books about Robinson for young readers, such as David Adler's Jackie Robinson: He Was the First (Holiday, 1989) and Jim O'Connor's Jackie Robinson and the Story of All-Black Baseball (Random, 1989), but none of them have the style or dramatic impact of Golenbock and Bacon's work. This is a wonderful and important story, beautifully presented, but the geographic confusion is disturbing. --Elaine Fort Weischedel, Turner Free Library, Randolph, MA

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