Title: We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
Author: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Jump At The Sun
Publication Date: January 8, 2008
Age Range: 8-12 years
Lexile Reading Level: 900L
We Are the Ship is a book about the history Negro League Baseball and how it fits in with the overall history of Major League Baseball. The author goes into detail about specific teams and players. Using realistic illustrations, the author is able to hit home the fact that this book is about real people and real baseball players. The book is divided into ten different sections–nine innings plus extra innings–and it is narrated by the collective voice of all those who played Negro League Baseball.
The foreword is written by Hank Aaron (a Negro/Major League Baseball player) which lends credibility to the book as a whole. Hank Aaron was around when some of the events detailed in the book happened. The book also includes end notes, a bibliography, and an index. Overall, the book seems to be historically accurate and those with doubts can look into the author’s sources. While the content is sound, the tone of the book is oddly upbeat and doesn’t seem to give heavy topics enough weight. The included illustrations are strikingly realistic and showcase each of the highlighted players as individuals. However, not all illustrations are historically accurate and the author explains about the artistic licenses he took with the illustrations in an author’s note at the end of the book.
Overall, this book would be a great read for any youth who are interested in the history of baseball. While many are probably familiar with the names Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, less will recognize the names Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson. In addition, this book is also a good resource for introducing the topic of racism to younger children in a way that they may be able to process better.