Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dad, Jackie and Me 
By Myron Uhlberg
Illustrated by  Colin Bootman

Awards: Many!  2006 ALA Schneider Family Book Award, 2007 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities, 2006 Storytelling World Award, 2006 IRA TEachers’ Choice, 2006 NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts

Well, that says it all!  This book is a winner!

This is a tender story about a boy, who has normal hearing, and his deaf father.  They follow the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers—the first year that Jackie Robinson played on the team.

The book emphasizes the strength that develops in an individual to overcome prejudice—not only Jackie Robinson, because of the color of his skin, but the father, because he is deaf.  

Book Talk
It’s the beginning of the 1947 baseball season and our narrator is very excited!  He lives in Brooklyn and is a huge fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers (like everyone else in the neighborhood).The Dodgers have just signed Jackie Robinson and the fans are thrilled with the talent he brings to the team. 

The boy’s father comes home one afternoon from work with tickets to a game. The boy’s father is deaf and using sign language explains to the boy that he wants to meet Jackie Robinson! The boy is surprised because up until now, the father has shown little interest in baseball.

They go to the game and watch as the opposing team is cruel and prejudice towards Jackie.  When Jackie makes a great play, the Dodger fans go wild chanting Jackie’s name: “Jack-ie, Jack-ie”.  The boy’s father tries to join in, but makes grunting noises instead which attracts some strange looks and embarrasses the boy.

The summer continues and the father and son follow the team by starting a big scrapbook and going to as many games as they can. They thoroughly enjoy supporting Jackie, not only because of his spectacular athletic ability and contributions to the team, but because of the special connection the father begins to feel with Jackie.  The father has also faced discrimination in his life because of his hearing disability.  

Throughout the summer, when the crowd chants “Jack-ie, Jack-ie”, the boy’s father chants as loudly as he can, “AH-GHEE, AH-GEE”.  The boy wonders if Jackie can hear his father.

By the end of the season, the Dodgers had the pennant wrapped up, but the boy and his father still go to the last game.  Jackie makes an amazing catch for the last out of the game and the crowd cheers wildly…including the boy’s father with his “AH-GEE, AH-GEE” chant.  After he makes the last out, Jackie stops for a moment, then looking directly at the father, tosses the game winning ball directly to him. The boy’s father, who had never caught a ball before, easily catches the toss from Jackie Robinson, solidifying their kinship as individuals who have been discriminated against.

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Memoir, Historical Fiction
Reading Workshop strategies: Connecting, Inferring, Analyzing
Writing Workshop genres /strategies: Memoir, Narrative Writing, Elaboration, Strong endings
Curricular Themes: Civil Rights issues/US history, We Need Diverse Books

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