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TESTING THE ICE; A True Story About Jackie Robinson

Author: Sharon Robinson

Illustrator: Kadir Nelson

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Publisher: Scholastic Press,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Sharon is the daughter of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1946. The book opens with Jackie Robinson sliding into home during the 1955 World Series, but the heart of the story is "Jackie the dad," raising his family on a 6-acre spread in Stamford, Connecticut. In the summer Sharon, her brothers, and their friends, who were white, would swim in the lake near their home. In the winter, the lake froze. Before they could go skating on the lake, the kids needed someone to test the ice to make sure it was safe. That job fell to Jackie Robinson, a man who could not swim and was afraid of the water. This is a family story about Jackie Robinson written by his daughter Sharon.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 10; read yourself: 8 to 12

Interest Level: 6 to 10

Reading Level: 4

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: The illustrations are amazing ... as all of Nelson's work is). The story did a wonderful job setting the scene of "how things were,” and talks about famous people of the time whose names kids today will recognize. But what really stuck with me is that it is Sharon's personal story of a person "just like me," with people we recognize in ourselves and in our communities even today.

Pros: Beautifully illustrated and well written, this story offers a more well-rounded look at Jackie Robinson as a personal hero, not *just* a baseball player.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a beautiful book, well worth having on your home library shelves.


Educational Themes: This is what we would call a non-traditional biography of Jackie Robinson. It is not about his heroics breaking the color barrier for major league baseball. The book does a great job of "dropping" the reader into the 1950s and 1960s, and would be a great book to be part of a Civil Rights Movement discussion.

Notes: A Reading Tub volunteer submitted this review. This book is in her personal library.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, biography, family, sports, baseball, multicultural, 1950s, 1940s

Date(s) Reviewed: March 2014

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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