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Afrikan Djeli

Just Like Josh Gibson

$ 7.00

Kindergarten-Grade 3—A young narrator opens this story about her grandmother with an anecdote about the legendary Josh Gibson, a Negro League player who once hit a baseball so hard in Pittsburgh that it landed during his game in Philadelphia the next day. That was the day Grandmama was born. Her father brought a Louisville slugger to the hospital and vowed that his daughter would “make baseballs fly, just like Josh Gibson.” She became as good a player as the boys on the Maple Grove All-Stars, and sometimes she was invited to practice with them. When her cousin hurt his arm during a game, Grandmama got her chance to hear the cheers as she ran the bases, “stealing home.” Peck’s well-designed, richly colored pastel artwork, which shows people with emotion and depth, is clearly the highlight of the book. Young Grandmama, in yellow pedal pushers or a pink dress, stands out among the boys’ white uniforms and the burnt orange chest protectors of the catcher and umpire. A close-up at the end shows the narrator holding the very ball her grandmother hit, as the older woman looks on, her hand on a photo of the team. Information about Hall of Famer Gibson is appended. Although the story is slight, it imparts the message that a girl can succeed at a “boy’s game” if she sets her mind to it.