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WILLIE AND THE ALL-STARS by Floyd Cooper Kirkus Star


by Floyd Cooper & illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-399-23340-1
Publisher: Philomel

In 1942 on Chicago’s North Side, Willie, a young African-American boy, dreams of becoming a great baseball player in the Major Leagues, like Joe DiMaggio or Dizzy Dean. When he hears the old men in the street talking about Cool Papa Bell and other unfamiliar players, he learns that these stars play in the Negro Leagues and that, like them, he will not be able to play in the Major Leagues. “Son...being a Major League ballplayer is about a lot more that how good a fella is. It’s also about the color of his skin. And yours is the wrong color.” With this plain-speaking statement, Cooper places readers squarely in history. The gritty, realistic illustrations portray the harshness of the setting, against which the characters’ emotions virtually leap off the page. A climactic showdown in Wrigley Field between Negro League and Major League All-Stars gives Willie and readers a chance to see such lights as Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson compete—and win—in an even match. Triumphant. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)