Nelson, Kadir. 2008. We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. Ill. Kadir Nelson. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 978-078680832-8
2. PLOT SUMMARY
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball is a wonderful telling of a historic event in both African American and American history. Kadir Nelson's text and illustrations provide a historical and emotional journey for the reader through the magic of Negro League Baseball. This often overlooked league was pivotal in the furthering of Baseball as the nation's pasttime.
3. CRITICAL ANALYSIS
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball is written in the voice of an unnamed baseball player narrator giving the nonfiction text the element of having a conversation with an old timer of the league. This narrative style allows the reader to assimilate knowledge in a non threatening environment on a personal level. The book is divided into innings instead of chapters further pulling in the reader into a mythical game of baseball history.
Each two page spread contains at least one magnificent oil painting and one full page of text. Each oil painting depicts Negro League giants who were pivitoal in the development of the game. Intermittent two page illustrations are placed throughout the work lending power to the work without the interruption of words. Kadir Nelson's text is magnified by the strength of the illustrations. Even if the reader does not love the game of baseball, he or she will be able to connect through the power of Nelson's paintings.
4. REVIEW EXCERPT(s)
Coretta Scott King Book Award
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award
The Robert F. Sibert Medal
L.A. Times Book Review- "ostensibly, a children's book. But author-illustrator Kadir Nelson's text is so engrossing -- and his oil paintings so evocative -- that the rubric is inadequate. Nelson's soulful work about this long-neglected brand of our national pastime deserves -- nay, demands -- an all-ages audience."
Horn Book starred review-"His grand slam, though, is the art: Nelson’s oil paintings have a steely dignity, and his from-the-ground perspectives make the players look larger than life"
Library media connection starred review- "One need not be a baseball fan to enjoy this book, because it's more than a sports story. It's a story of real people enduring more than many of us can imagine, playing a game they love."
Kirkus starred review- "Along with being absolutely riveted by the art, readers will come away with a good picture of the Negro Leaguers' distinctive style of play, as well as an idea of how their excellence challenged the racial attitudes of both their sport and their times."
School Library Journal starred review-"It is an engaging tribute that should resonate with a wide audience and delight baseball fans of all ages"
Booklist starred review - "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"
This is a wonderful book to use throughout an American History class.
Other books written by Kadir Nelson:
Nelson, Kadir. 2005. He's Got the Whole World in his Hands. New York: Dial
.....2011. Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. New York: Balzer and Bray