Anyone who thumbs through the books on the non-fiction picture book shelves will find the recently published We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson. Baseball fans will love this book for its strong voice and powerful pictures. We Are the Ship is an excellent choice to teach children a multitude of things without them ever actually realizing it. Within its pages, kids will read about the discrimination African-Americans faced baseball. Stuck dealing with ugly conditions, segregation, hatred, and poor pay, the men persevered in the face of so much adversity. The story begins as the League’s forms in 1920 and strides along up until 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the stereotype and the segregation line to play in the major league.
At 96 pages, We Are the Ship features Kadir Nelson’s amazing oil paintings. The pictures fill up entire pages, often taking up two pages to offer children an impressive look into the world of the Negro League and its time. Rich in color as well as emotion, children will be delighted to find that some of the pages actually fold out to provide a look at the faces of many unsung heroes of the time who braved the hardships just to play a game of baseball. Action shots are just as stunning, capturing moments in mid-play as players slide home and the ball flies toward the mitt of the catcher.
Unlike a lot of children’s books, the text can take up large areas of the page, so while children at age 6 will need help, the age range reaches as high as 11-year-olds, who will tackle the pages with relish as they learn about an often overlooked piece of history.