Reviews for Just As Good : How Larry Doby Changed America's Game
Booklist Reviews 2012 February #1
Though Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier, he was still considered the exception that proved the rule: black baseball players weren't good enough. Signing with the Cleveland Indians just months later, Larry Doby became the first African American to play in the American League, and he helped power the team to a championship in his second season. With an author's note that fleshes out Doby's historical significance, this nostalgic picture book frames Doby's on-field heroics with a story of a father and son listening on the radio as Doby launches a game-winning home run in the World Series. The next morning, a controversial newspaper photo of Doby and white pitcher Steve Gromek hugging prompts the father to say, "Will you just look at that? Change ain't a-comin', Homer. It's already here." Benny's art shifts from the family room to the diamond, bringing particular expressiveness to the boy's face as he clutches his head in excitement. A sage reminder that though the first step might be the hardest, the second is no less important. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Less well known than Jackie Robinson's, Doby's career as the American League's first African-American player was equally plagued by racism. Young baseball fan Homer is thrilled when the Cleveland Indians acquire Doby; the story focuses on Homer's family listening to games on the radio while the large-scale, intense acrylics shift from capturing the family's rapturous involvement to Doby in action. A historical note is appended. Bib.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 January #1
A young boy and his parents gather round their brand-new radio, purchased just for the occasion, to listen anxiously and, finally, exultantly as Larry Doby leads the 1948 Cleveland Indians to World Series victory. The boy, African-American, had been told that there was no future for him in baseball because of segregation, even though Jackie Robinson now played with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Doby had signed with the Indians. Larry Doby? Doby integrated the American League and was a brilliant hitter and fielder who got lost in the Robinson accolades. Crowe's story captures a slice of baseball life for a family enjoying the old-time radio play-by-play and seeing in Doby's accomplishments a sign of better times to come. Benny's full-page acrylic paintings are cheery and portray a comfortable home setting. There's also a dramatic double-page spread of Doby's Game Four home run. More importantly, Benny reproduces the newspaper photograph of Doby and the Indians' white pitcher, Steve Gromek, joyfully hugging each other cheek to cheek. It's a photo that should stand in importance alongside the one of PeeWee Reese putting his arm around Robinson, as remembered so well in Peter Golenbock's Teammates (1990). A fine story about baseball that makes its point quietly and effectively. (historical note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 November #4
While numerous children's books have been written about Jackie Robinson, this is the first dedicated to another pioneering ballplayer, Larry Doby, who joined the Cleveland Indians 11 weeks after Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Doby became the first African-American player in the American League and, in 1948, he helped the Indians win their first World Series in decades. Crowe (Mississippi Trial, 1945) tells the story of the first game in that World Series matchup through the excited first-person narration of Homer, a young baseball fan who, having been told he can't play on his local Little League team, is looking to Doby to prove "that our people are just as good in baseball--or anything else--as whites are." Homer and his parents listen to the game over a newly purchased radio, but readers have a better seat, thanks to Benny's (The Listeners) atmospheric acrylic paintings, which shift between closeups of the ballpark action and Homer's family's elated reactions at home. A straightforward but nonetheless inspirational story of barriers being broken down, one slow step at a time. Ages 6-10. (Jan.) [Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2012 January
Gr 1-4--Eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier with the National League's Brooklyn Dodgers, Doby signed with the Cleveland Indians, in the American League. While his achievement has not been as celebrated as Robinson's, the need for him to succeed was just as important. It validated Robinson's Rookie of the Year accomplishment, proving that he wasn't a fluke, and that African-American players could succeed in baseball just as well as white athletes. Doby's story--and particularly his 1948 season with the World Champion Indians--is seen through the eyes of Homer, an African-American child who is crazy about baseball. He, too, faces disappointment when his Little League coach tells him he can't play because he is black (an abruptly cruel moment in an otherwise uplifting book). Homer and his father follow Doby's every move, fully aware of the history they are witnessing. It is the familial context that gives the book its punch. Period details, such as hurrying to the local drugstore to listen to the World Series games on the radio, combine with play-by-play drama to flesh out a compelling story. Benny's acrylic paintings focus on the characters--Doby, Homer, his mother and father--placing them in the spotlight at various moments. A compelling look at one of the game's trailblazers.--Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA [Page 92]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.