42 Is Not Just a Number: The Odyssey of Jackie Robinson, American Hero

128p. bibliog. chron. further reading. index. websites. Candlewick. Sept. 2017. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763676247.
Gr 5–8—Jackie Robinson's life has inspired a number of biographies for kids, and Rappaport (Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust; Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) adds a well-rounded and nuanced portrayal. The book examines Jack Roosevelt Robinson's life from his early years (including teenage run-ins with the law) and concludes its detailed coverage roughly 90 pages later with the World Series of 1947. The more than 20 pages of back matter tackle brief high points in Robinson's dazzling career and excellent source notes. Rappaport does not sugarcoat the challenges Robinson faced, repeating racial slurs in the text. Although Robinson sometimes lost his temper, he kept his dignity through incidents that will make readers cringe. Robinson was not welcome at team hotels. He ate many meals in restaurants separate from the team, with only manager Wendell Smith for company, and he was harassed and insulted by opposing players and occasionally by teammates as well. A discussion guide is planned and may help adults and younger readers process the prejudice and hate that Robinson endured, particularly in his childhood and early career.
VERDICT An excellent biography that humanizes its legendary subject for middle schoolers.

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