Reviews for When Jackie and Hank Met

Booklist Reviews 2012 June #1
While the moment when Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg met (crashing together at first base in a 1947 game) isn't among the lauded landmarks in baseball history, Fishman makes a case that there's more to the encounter than meets the eye. This dual biography parallels the racism the two athletes encountered on their paths to greatness and features Elliott's somewhat static paintings that show mirroring scenes from the two men's lives on facing pages. While Robinson had to break the color barrier, that doesn't mean the vitriol Greenberg faced as one of the few Jewish ballplayers was any less daunting. Fishman structures the narrative around swelling and shrinking distances, with the two being born 1,000 miles apart, growing up 2,000 miles apart, and finally squaring off 90 feet apart on the field before their collision closed the gap, and nothing separated Jackie and Hank. This emphasis neatly reinforces the men's similarities in both character and life experience. An unusual and welcome new slant on a well-covered era in American sports history. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
This joint biography parallels Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg--baseball players who both faced prejudice because Robinson was African American and Greenberg was Jewish. Beginning with their births, Fishman traces their careers until their fateful 1947 collision at first base, where Greenberg encouraged Robinson to ignore the heckling. Elliott's figurative art is handsome but stiff.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 February #1
Two baseball heroes who battled hatred and prejudice met for the first time in an on-field collision. Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg were both determined to play baseball, and they both served in the armed forces in World War II. But dealing with racial and religious bigotry was the true common thread that wove through their lives. They faced restrictions on their freedom to live in certain neighborhoods, stay in hotels or join clubs. They heard threatening epithets and had objects thrown at them. When they collided at first base, the crowd shouted for them to fight, but they just got on with the game, and Greenberg had some words of sympathetic encouragement for Robinson. In their retirement years, they remained friendly, and both worked for equal rights in and out of baseball. Employing a matter-of-fact, conversational tone, Fishman tells the stories of their lives in tandem, stating the physical distances that separated them while emphasizing the similarities of their parallel struggles. History is contextualized in language and syntax that is accessible and straightforward. Elliott's acrylics, softly tinted and framed in white, variously depict the two lives separately or in a split-screen format that complements not only the action, but the spirit of the work. A gentle and loving reminder that baseball mirrors society and can also transcend it. (biographical information, websites, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 February #1

Fishman profiles two groundbreaking ballplayers--Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg--highlighting the difficulties both men faced on the way to becoming the household names they are today. A theme of distance runs through the story ("Hank and his brothers lived with their parents in a New York City apartment more than 2,000 miles away from Pasadena" where Robinson grew up), but Fishman finds many similarities in the lives of both men, from their early days of playing baseball on the street to the discrimination they endured for being black or Jewish and even their military service during WWII. When the gap between the two players finally closes, and they meet at a 1947 game between the Dodgers and the Pirates, a friendship is born. Elliott makes effective use of parallel imagery in "split-screen" acrylic paintings and sepia-toned side-by-side illustrations to underscore the commonalities between these storied players. Ages 7-10. Agent: Anna Olswanger, Liza Dawson Associates. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 May

Gr 1-3--This year marks the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier, and this book touches on that event while also recognizing the efforts of Hank Greenberg, one of the first Jewish players in the Major Leagues. Fishman uses distance as a literary device to emphasize two individuals who, while far apart physically for most of their lives, were in fact in close proximity due to their efforts to ensure equality within the world of professional baseball. She often mentions the mileage between them, yet distance is continually trumped by similarities and experiences. When a single play finally brought them side by side on the first-base line at Forbes Field, these two men met with a handshake and mutual admiration, though it is suggested that the crowd was hoping to see a fight. The author includes biographical information about each player as well as time lines of important dates in their lives, but in all of her extensive notes and recommended sources, she does not reveal if there was any actual impact from the incident at the time. Nonetheless, the book is thought-provoking because it shows how shared purposes can connect, even if only in passing. The acrylic illustrations support the text with several split-page portraits, showing Jackie and Hank sharing similar experiences long before they actually met. The book will certainly have appeal to baseball fans, and is a good recommendation for older readers who still like to read picture books.--Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA

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