Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson

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Sharon Robinson; illustrated
by Kadir Nelson
Scholastic Press
40 pages. $16.99.

Sharing a family incident from her childhood, Sharon Robinson bears testament to her famous father’s courage in this nuanced picture book. Just before Jackie Robinson’s team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, won the 1955 World Series, he moved his wife and children – Sharon and her two brothers – to a house in Connecticut. He loved the privacy of the surrounding woods, but the children loved the huge lake shared with neighbors. The children sailed and swam with their new friends.

A stunning example of the transformative power of picture book art, Kadir Nelson’s glowing illustrations in pencil, watercolor and oil bring to life these oversized pages, surveying landscapes and faces from unusual angles.

The story builds to the vivid climax. Badgered by the children to let them skate, dad must test the ice. As he taps his broomstick on the ice to check for cracks, we’re suddenly swept upward for an aerial view, looking down on Robinson as he freezes, peering through the ice. Watching from the shore, Sharon suddenly realizes why her father avoids the lake. He can’t swim.

But gray skies turn blue as Robinson pronounces the ice safe for skating, and the joyous children glide past him. (800) 724-6527, http://www.scholastic.com.