Testing the Ice

Testing The Ice:  A True Story About Jackie Robinson

By:  Sharon Robinson

Illustrated by:  Kadir Nelson

Jackie Robinson made history by breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball.  He is a national hero whose bravery helped pave the way for equal rights to African-Americans.  One would think he could do anything, but Jackie held a secret from the world.  He could not swim.

The story is authored by Robinson’s daughter, Sharon.  She shares her memory of moving out of New York City to the countryside in Connecticut.  She meets many new friends and enjoys her life there.  The illustrations really bring the story to life. The perspective brings a feeling as if I’m right there at that moment in time!  Kadir Nelson did a great job telling the story through his drawings.

The book goes into how Jackie entered Major League Baseball by telling the story to Sharon and her new friends.  It is such an incredible story of courage.  I can’t even begin to imagine all that he had to deal with in a time when segregation existed.

No one knew Jackie Robinson could not swim.  While all the kids played in the lake by their house, Jackie always stayed close to shore.  When winter arrives, all the kids want to ice skate on the frozen lake.  Jackie sets out to ‘test the ice’ and in this moment, Sharon realizes he can’t swim.  She realizes his bravery and correlates his actions on the ice to his courage to be the first African-American in Major League Baseball.  It is a beautiful, interwoven story for all brave hearts to hear.  It helps the reader realize how one must step into unfamiliar territory and move past one’s fears to achieve great things!  I highly recommend this book.

Reviewed by Shelley Olin