42 cover This compelling biography chronicles the extraordinary courage and dignity of Jackie Robinson, who not only broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball but also changed white Americans’ perceptions of black Americans. His impact reached beyond the world of sports: he won over the hearts of all Americans and became an American hero.


Junior Library Guild
Tween Nonfiction Book Nominee, Grand Canyon Award
Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award master list



“Rappaport condenses Robinson’s bio from his early years in his financially struggling family, through stints in community college, the military, and UCLA, and forward to his recruitment onto the Montreal Royals and, ultimately, the Brooklyn Dodgers. Short chapters revolve around well-defined episodes, and the scope of the entire work extends only through Robinson’s 1947 season, with a coda that skips ahead to the posthumous retirement of number 42 in 1997. Brevity and accessibility, however, don’t mean lightweight coverage: Rappaport slams down hard on the vicious opponents and rival fans who made Robinson’s rise through the system a living hell, sparingly but effectively dropping the n-bomb in documented quotations. Retellings of the Robinson story have sometimes cast him as pacifistic, or at least stoic, in the face of the racial slurs, but Rappaport presses against this image as well, depicting Robinson as a man with a personal history of using his mouth and his fists in defense of his dignity and who therefore fought daily against his pugnacious nature in order to disarm the arguments of those who would keep African-American players out of the game.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Early on, young Jackie Robinson was taught to fight back when faced with racial slurs and prejudice, and he did, first as one of the few black kids in his neighborhood and later as one of the few black officers on his army base. But those injustices and the indignities he endured while playing for Negro league baseball were dwarfed by the hostility shown by many white players and fans when he broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. While children’s books on Jackie Robinson are plentiful, this well-researched, concise biography clearly shows the extraordinary burdens he carried and recognizes his significance as an agent of change within American society. A Dodgers fan as a child during the Robinson years, Rappaport offers an engaging account of the man’s life and presents enough background information about American racism during the 1930s and 1940s to help young readers understand the depth of his courage and the magnitude of his achievement as “a one-person civil rights movement.” — Booklist

“Jackie Robinson’s life has inspired a number of biographies for kids, and Rappaport adds a well-rounded and nuanced portrayal…A discussion guide is planned and may help adults and younger readers process the prejudice and hate that Robinson endured, particularly in his childhood and early career. An excellent biography that humanizes its legendary subject for middle schoolers.” 
— School Library Journal

“Rappaport uses personal vignettes to bring to vivid life the story of the first man to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Grabbing readers’ attention with lines such as, “It was 3:00 a.m., but no one in the Robinson family was sleeping,” Rappaport pulls them in close to witness events that shaped baseball great Jackie Robinson. From a racist encounter with a neighbor at age eight to his time spent in the U.S. Army and the Negro Leagues, 21 short chapters tell a story of courage, self-control, and perseverance. Drawing from Robinson’s autobiography and other sources, Rappaport explores some of the seminal events in Robinson’s life and the ballplayer’s feelings about them, ably profiling a groundbreaking athlete and “one-person civil rights movement.” 
— Publishers Weekly


Videos and Links

National History Day Project by Nat Casey and Deklan Robinson, JR Documentary

An excellent documentary by Nat Casey and Deklan Robinson for their National History Day Project.

WS1952GM7: Jackie Robinson bunts for single.

See Jackie Robinson in action.

Rachel Robinson on her late husband Jackie’s legacy

Listen to Rachel Robinson speak about Jackie’s legacy.

Remembering Jackie Baseball Hall of Fame

Click here to learn more

Jackie Robinson’s HoF Speech/MLB.com

Click here to watch speech
Listen to Jackie Robinson’s speech for his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.