Thursday, February 11, 2010

Testing the Ice

Testing the Ice : A True Story About Jackie Robinson is a beautiful story written by Jackie's daughter, Sharon Robinson. It is illustrated in Kadir Nelson's amazing way -- his illustrations of people seem to have light shining from their faces.

From reading the back flap, I found out that the words in this book are actually a story about her father that Sharon Robinson has told many times through the years. I'm just personally delighted that she has committed the story to a book format for all to enjoy.

The story of Jackie Robinson's emergence from the Negro Leagues to the all-white major leagues is the stuff of legends. Robinson briefly touches on that part of her dad's life in this story. However, the man she knew as "dad" was just a regular guy.

It was when their family moved to Connecticut, and made friends with their neighbors, Candy, Willie, and Christy that this story takes place. Jackie Robinson had decided to retire from major league baseball, and had far more time at home. The Robinson's new neighbors loved seeing Jackie's trophy room and hearing about Jackie's life in the Negro League and then how that changed when Branch Rickey brought him to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

At their new home in Connecticut, there was a lovely lake that the rest of the Robinson family loved to utilize as much as possible -- canoeing, fishing, swimming. But not Jackie. He had never learned to swim and was very fearful of the water.

So, when winter came, and Sharon was dying to go ice skating, she came to her dad to ask permission. What happens next is a beautiful metaphor for how Jackie Robinson is a true hero. He was willing to go where no one else had gone, even though he was frightened for his own safety.

Having Sharon Robinson tell a story like Testing the Ice about Jackie Robinson, the dad, makes him that much more of a hero in my eyes. It is not necessarily what you do in big public situations that make you a hero; it is what you do in your everyday life. Jackie Robinson most definitely has earned the title of "hero"!!

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