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We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseballby Kadir Nelson
Synopses & Reviews
"We are the ship; all else the sea." Rube Foster, founder of the Negro National League.
The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball.
Using an "Everyman" player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. The voice is so authentic, you will feel as if you are sitting on dusty bleachers listening intently to the memories of a man who has known the great ballplayers of that time and shared their experiences. But what makes this book so outstanding are the dozens of full-page and double-page oil paintings, breathtaking in their perspectives, rich in emotion, and created with understanding and affection for these lost heroes of our national game. We Are the Ship is a tour de force for baseball lovers of all ages.
"In his first outing as author as well as illustrator, Nelson (Ellington Was Not a Street) delivers a history of the Negro Leagues in a sumptuous volume that no baseball fan should be without. Using a folksy vernacular, a fictional player gives an insider account of segregated baseball, explaining the aggressive style of play ('Those fellows would bunt and run you to death. Drove pitchers crazy!') and recalling favorite players. Of Satchel Paige, he says, 'Even his slow stuff was fast.' As illuminating as the text is, Nelson's muscular paintings serve as the true draw. His larger-than-life players have oversized hands, elongated bodies and near-impossible athleticism. Their lined faces suggest the seriousness with which they took their sport and the circumstances under which they were made to play it. A gatefold depicting the first 'Colored World Series' is particularly exquisite — a replica ticket opens from the gutter to reveal the entire line-ups of both teams. And while this large, square book (just a shade smaller than a regulation-size base) succeeds as coffee-table art, it soars as a tribute to the individuals, like the legendary Josh Gibson, who was ultimately elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame without ever playing in the major leagues. As Nelson's narrator says, 'We had many Josh Gibsons in the Negro Leagues.... But you never heard about them. It's a shame the world didn't get to see them play.' Ages 8-up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In this tour de force for baseball lovers of all ages, noted artist Kadir Nelson presents the story of the Negro Baseball League from it's beginnings in the 1920's through it's decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947.
In this "New York Times" bestseller, noted artist Kadir Nelson tells the story of baseball's unsung heroes. [A] sumptuous volume that no baseball fan should be without.
About the Author
Kadir Nelson's paintings have been exhibited in many galleries and museums around the world, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Museum of Tolerance, and the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences in Los Angeles; the Museum of African American History in Detroit; the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum in Washington D.C.; and the Society of Illustrators and the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York, as well as many others.
Nelson is the illustrator of many books for children. Among the best known are Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, an NAACP Image Award winner, a Caldecott Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner; Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner; Please, Baby, Please and Please, Puppy, Please, by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee; and Will Smith's Just the Two of Us, also an NAACP Image Award winner. We Are the Ship is the first book Nelson has written and illustrated.
Kadir Nelson lives with his family in California. Visit his Web site, www.kadirnelson.com.
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