This picture book packs an emotional wallop. The boy in the story loves baseball, especially The Brooklyn Dodgers. His dad takes him to opening day, 1947, to see Jackie Robinson. The dad shouts "Ah-ghee, Ah-ghee" every time Jackie is up to bat. Being deaf, he isn't aware that he is mispronouncing Jackie's name, but his son is embarrassed when the other fans begin to stare.
The boy teaches his dad how to play baseball. He throws the ball to his dad every night, but his dad is never able to catch it. He never learned to play sports at the deaf school he attended.
They go to every home game that season together. When Jackie catches the last ball of the season, he throws it to the boy's dad, who catches the first ball of his life. When he hands it to his son, Jackie smiles.
Myron Uhlberg based this book on his deaf father, and his author's note at the end is very emotional.
I really liked this picture book a lot. The theme of overcoming adversity is woven through Jackie's story and the father's story without being heavy handed.
This book is a wonderful addition for a classroom because of its length, the focus on diversity, adversity, and the love between a father and son. It has won two awards - The Teachers' Choices from the International Reading Association Project and the Schneider Family Book Award. I recommend it for upper elementary students.