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A True Story About Jackie Robinson (Testing The Ice)

Last updated Thursday, May 20, 2010

Author: Sharon Robinson
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 0545052513
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2010

Synopsis: When Jackie Robinson retires from baseball and moves his family to Connecticut, the beautiful lake on their property is the center of everyone's fun. The neighborhood children join the Robinson kids for swimming and boating. But oddly, Jackie never goes near the water. In a dramatic episode that first winter, the children beg to go ice skating on the lake. Jackie says they can go--but only after he tests the ice to make sure it's safe. The children prod and push to get Jackie outside, until hesitantly, he finally goes. Like a blind man with a stick, Jackie taps on the ice's surface, when suddenly howling and roaring sounds come out of the lake! It is only then that Sharon realizes why she's never seen her father in the water -- Jackie doesn't know how to swim! But her horror changes to relief as Jackie bravely taps his way to the middle of the lake -- and declare it safe! In a stunning metaphor for Jackie Robinson's legendary breaking of the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Sharon Robinson honors her extraordinary father's memory with her warm graceful storytelling. Amazon review

Note to readers:
•  There is background information in the back of the book that might be interesting to read to the kids.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Look at the front and back covers. Have you been to a Dodger game? Are you a Dodger fan? Why does his hat have a "B" on it (The Dodgers started out in Brooklyn).
•  What do you think this story might be about?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Have you heard of Yogi Berra or Jackie Robinson? Who is your favorite baseball player. Who is your favorite baseball team?
•  Have you ever moved? Do you like to move? Do you think Jackie's family were happy to move?
•  Why do you think Jackie wouldn't go in the water? Do you like to swim in a pool, lake, or ocean?
•  What does segregated mean? Do you think it's ok to segregate sports, schools, hotels, or anything else in public? How would you feel if you couldn't do something because of what you look like?
•  How do you think people would react if a woman wanted to play World Cup Soccer or in the NFL? Describe to the kids that this is how it used to be when an African American wanted to play baseball.
•  Why do you think he might have trouble controlling his temper? Do you ever have trouble controlling your temper? How do you manage it?
•  Why do you think it surprised fans when Jackie Robinson retired? Why do you think he decided to retire early?
•  Do you know who Dr. Martin Luther King is?
•  Why do you think Jackie always found a reason not to get into the water?
•  Why do you think Jackie looked anxious when the kids wanted to go ice skating? Have you ever been ice skating?
•  What does "sheepishly" mean?
•  Have you ever been scared of anything? Did you try to do it anyway?
•  Have your parents ever been in danger? Were you scared for them? What are some things that your role models do that are brave?
•  Think about what would have happened if the ice wasn't thick enough? How would you feel if you were the one responsible for testing the iceresponsible not only for your own safety but for that of others?
•  Discuss the similarities between Jackie's courage to be the first one to test the ice and make it safe for those who followed and Jackie's courage in being the first African American in major league baseball, making the way safe for those who followed.

Craft ideas:
•  Make a trophy, certificate, or medal for your hero. Design their award for a courageous act that you admire them for.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!