Always, Jackie
Always, Jackie
Always, Jackie
Always, Jackie

Always, Jackie

J. Patrick Lewis (Author)

John Thompson (Illustrator)

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The unbelievable yet true story of how an eight-year-old white kid from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, met the legendary Jackie Robinson in the 1950s--and how the two became lifelong friends.

Reviews

This is the true story of Ronnie Rabinovitz, a Jewish Midwestern kid who loved baseball and Jackie Robinson. His father wrote a letter to Mr. Robinson on behalf of Ronnie that began a lifelong pen pal relationship between the young boy and the baseball legend. This picture book biography focuses on Robinson's accomplishment of being the first African American player in the major leagues and how the racism he faced connects to the racism confronting the young Jewish boy and his family. The acrylic painting artwork is based on archival photographs and [is] strikingly realistic, which helps bring the text to life. While there are many biographies already circulating on the legendary Robinson, if these titles are popular in your library, then this one will serve to provide a different focus for the reader.

–Kristin Fletcher-Spear, School Library Connection , 6/1/2020

Infused with a hefty dose of romanticism around bygone days, Lewis frames Jackie Robinson’s extraordinary baseball career through the lens of Ronnie Rabinovitz, one young fan (“a youngster with curveball hopes and fastball dreams”) who was profoundly affected by him. Lewis conveys the story of the pair’s letter exchanges, meetups, and eventual friendship in dramatic diction (“Though separated by age, race, religion, and geography, this unimaginable pair became lifelong friends all on account of a game”), making this true story compelling even without an action-packed plot, touching upon the prejudice Robinson faced and briefly drawing parallels with Rabinovitz’s experiences with anti-Semitism. Photorealistic acrylic paintings by Thompson, based on archival photographs, accentuate the retro aesthetic of this tender personal narrative, perfect for baseball buffs and Robinson worshipers. Back matter includes a concise selection of Robinson’s noteworthy accomplishments and statistics, as well as a bibliography and one of the letters that Robinson sent to Rabinovitz.

PW web review , 4/24/2020

A middle-grade picture book about the relationship between baseball legend Jackie Robinson and a young fan, this reads like a love letter to the man who desegregated American baseball. Eight-year-old Ron Rabinovitz lived in Wisconsin but was obsessed with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson. The authors—including Rabinovitz himself—draw parallels between the anti-Semitism Rabinovitz experienced growing up in the Midwest and the prejudice Robinson encountered as the first African American man to play for a major league baseball team. These parallels underscore how the two were able to start and maintain a friendship that lasted for decades. Photorealistic acrylic paintings used throughout serve to emphasize the historic nature of their rapport while also highlighting the fact that Rabinovitz and Robinson are real people and not fictional characters. Although there are stronger titles about this important historical figure, juvenile readers will enjoy this story of the bond between a great man and one of his truest fans.

–Shaunterria Owens, Booklist , 4/1/2020

When young Ronnie Rabinovitz’s father wrote a letter on his son’s behalf to Jackie Robinson, neither of them could have predicted that the simple act would spark a cross-cultural, intergenerational friendship. Surprisingly, Rabinovitz and Robinson became pen pals. The former met his idol in 1953, and the two kept in touch: Robinson attended Rabinovitz’s 10th birthday party, and the athlete took his young fan on a tour of the Dodgers’ dressing room to collect autographs from the team. Their friendship lasted until the end of the baseball player’s life, but his death didn’t stop Rabinovitz from continuing to speak about Robinson’s lasting personal and cultural influence. The author and cowriter Lewis highlight the story of an unlikely friendship and address the racism and hostility that Robinson faced in pursuit of his career. Reminiscent of Norman Rockwell’s art, Thompson’s sepia-hued illustrations pair perfectly with this story of hope and nostalgia. The nonfiction picture book is part biography, part memoir, and all tribute to Jackie Robinson. Purchase to enhance nonfiction picture book collections.

–Jen McConnel, School Library Journal , 1/17/2020