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We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  3,829 ratings  ·  648 reviews
Using an "Everyman" player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through the decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. Illustrations from oil paintings by the author.
Hardcover, 88 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,829 ratings  ·  648 reviews

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Jul 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: mark-harmon
i already know all about the negro baseball league from that x-files episode with jesse l martin. this book seems to skip over all those parts. however, it would be a good read for baseball history fans, and the voice of the narrator made it very immediate and enjoyable.
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Rube Foster was the founder of the Negro National League. Said he of his men, "We are the ship: all else the sea." As long as there has been baseball in America there have been African-American ballplayers. Men like Sol White and Bud Fowler. Before Rube Foster, however, there was no organized professional league. Then, on February 20, 1920, Rube called together owners of black baseball teams, like himself, and the Negro National League began. Through the collective voice of the players, we hear ...more
Jun 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
I agree with Karen's reviews from this morning. Reading these non-fiction children's books has been eye-opening.

This is a great book. Objectively it's probably a five star book, it only gets four stars from me because my interest in baseball isn't that great, that's not the books fault though. At first I was afraid the book would fall apart under its language, the author uses a rhythm that is kind of old fashioned and stereotypically a rural African American. Instead of ever crossing the line i
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Last school year, we had the opportunity to welcome author/illustrator Kadir Nelson as a speaker. He put on an assembly for our students as well as signed copies of his books. The book I choose to get was We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. This book was one that I had never read or had experience with. Additionally, I didn’t know much about Kadir Nelson’s books.
The book was a telling of the history of Negro League baseball. Detailing the successes the players had and the stru
Abby Johnson
Apr 07, 2008 rated it liked it
This beautifully illustrated book chronicles the rise and fall of Negro League Baseball. Full-page paintings give you a real look at some of the most talented baseball players of their time (and possibly of any time). The writing is also awesome. Using a collective "we", Kadir Nelson speaks with the voice of all Negro League players, like he's been there and seen everything that he talks about. He uses a very conversational tone, like you were sitting on the back porch with any one of the player ...more
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Young Readers Interested in Baseball and/or American History
An outstanding book, with an informative and immensely readable narrative, and gorgeous illustrations, Kadir Nelson's We Are the Ship is a work that draws the reader in, even if she (like myself) has little interest in baseball. The story of African-Americans in the sport - the title comes from a quote from Rube Foster, who founded the Negro National League - prior to the admittance of Jackie Robinson into the Major Leagues in 1947, it is a celebration of the perseverance and independence of spi ...more
Jun 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If this doesn't win an award of some kind it will be a tragedy. The artwork alone is enough to make this book a hit. But Kadir Nelson's storytelling ability draws in the reader and keeps us wanting to know more. As I read, I felt like I was sitting and listening to someone like Buck O'Neill talking about the old days. He traces the history of the Negro Leagues from its inception through its heyday. We not only learn about the skills of some of the more famous players, but we also learn about wha ...more
Alex Johnson
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
What this book does well is capture the feeling of the players in the Negro league. It is told with a collective "we" voice, which honestly irked me as I read the book; however, in the author's note, Kadir Nelson stated that he made that choice in order to show the unity. It was only then that I truly grasped the quote from the beginning: "We are the ship; all else the sea." Overall, Nelson conveyed a sense of perseverance and courage and lightheartedness through this book.

It was a little diffic
Patrice Jones
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best African American History books in the category of sports. Fantastic. The paintings look like photographs, and the research for this was phenomenal.
Mar 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Okay, ready to be jealous? Kadir Nelson is here in Springfield at the Illinois Reading Council Conference. I spoke to him after his presentation on his art. He is soft spoken, as Junko knows, and incredibly talented with oils and ethical when it comes to authenticity in his works.

We Are the Ship

Sibert Award 2009

I went to one of Kadir Nelson’s sessions at IRC today. This very soft spoken man had us on the edge of our seats, moving in closer to get a glimpse of the boy who has been drawing since
Charmie McKinney
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: info-bios
We Are The Ship – The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson

This book is the general history of Negro League Baseball from the beginning when African-Americans left professional baseball due to all the physical and mental hatred they had to endure from White players to when Jackie Robinson broke the “color barrier” of Major League Baseball thus ushering in the end of the Negro Leagues as Major League Baseball owners began to sign Negro League players. Famous Negro League players, teams,
Feb 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Turns out Nelson is a respectable writer, in addition to being an amazing illustrator. Some folks get ALL the talent :p Definitely gave me a lil' more respect for the game- cool idea to name the chapters "innings"
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Absolutely fantastic!!! Dion Graham was a wonderfully passionate narrator who brought this story to life. I learned so much and being a novice of both baseball history and the sport itself this was thoroughly enjoying. I was not overwhelmed or frustrated with the content covered. Highly recommend.
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kid-literature
We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Copyright: 2008

Genre: Informational, Historical fiction

Literature Requirement: Required Book to Read

I think that We are the Ship is one of the best books about baseball that I have ever read. I am not a huge fan of sports to begin with, but I thought We are the Ship was a great book about the Negro baseball league ( I am only using Negro because that is the term used for African-Americans when the League w
C. John Kerry
The Baseball Book Club decided for February to read a book concerning Baseball and African-Americans. Having come into the game in the late innings, so to speak, I chose this book from our regional library's juvenile section. I am glad I did.

The book is written in the first person, as if being told by someone who had played in the Negro Leagues. This gives the reader the impression that the author is writing from experience not research. Although meant as an introduction to the Negro Leagues I
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: info-bios
We Are The Ship The story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson is a nonfiction text about the history of the Negro League Baseball in the United State. The book talks about the full history of the Negro League from start to end and also spends time recognizing significant players. The story also illustrates the challenges African Americans faced when playing baseball and the difference of experiences they had then the white baseball leagues. The structure of the story is told in a narrative ...more
Dalton Collins
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kid-lit
I actually read this book for a previous class and fell in love with it. You can tell Kadir Nelson has a passion for this topic with how he portrays the characters and scenarios with his words and illustrations. I especially like how he draws most of these historic figures from a bottom up approach to make them appear almost as if they were larger than life. That approach in a way captures the view of these men from a child's perspective. The book shines a great light on Negro league baseball an ...more
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great read about how the Negro Leagues got started and absolutely beautiful illustrations to go along with it. Though they say this is a children's book, it doesn't read like one at all. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Mar 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Basically a long-form introduction to the Negro Leagues and some of the better-known players, as well as some of the injustices experienced during the era of segregation. The kind of book that you hope a younger person will read and then decide to investigate deeper into the history of both the sport and times.
Tammy J
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: info-bios
This was a book that should be passed down to young children. If you are a baseball fan this is a must read for sure! Growing up my family always went to baseball games. When you are a fan you never really get to see what goes on near the plate, in the dugouts, or even in the locker room or club house. This book talked about the Negro Baseball League. It was inspirational and sad at the same time to hear what the players had to go through. It took years for them to be able to play in the Major L ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am amazed by the paintings by Kadir Nelson. He truly makes you feel that you are looking out of a window into a scene when you read this book. The expressions on the faces of the men who worked tirelessly to play baseball because of the love of the game made you feel you were right there with them. Their eyes, mouth and tilt of their heads were very real to me. The marriage of the text with the illustrations were amazing. The book took me much longer to read because of the illustrations - I wa ...more
Evan Taylor
Did you know that the first pair of cleats were made by Bud Fowler because he got sick of white baseball players kicking him in the shin with their spiked cleats? I did not know this either and I would not have known if I did not read We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson. This book goes through the history of the Negro Baseball League and all of the players that played within the Negro Baseball League. In this history of the Negro Baseball League, there are also ma ...more
Tim Snell
Sep 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Genre: Biography
Copyright: 2008

"Makes you mad to hear players today squawk about jet lag, and all of this. Try sleeping in a car with your knees to your chest, crammed with eight other guys, only to play a game the next day."

"Players today just don't know how bad it could be. We look back and wonder, "How did we do all of that?" It's simple. We loved the game so much, we just looked past everything else."

Today, we idolize baseball players like C.C. Sabathia, Ryan Howard, Ken Griffey Jr., and Jer
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
We Are the Ship: the Story of Negro League Baseball written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, is the 2009 Robert F. Sibert Award for Information Book. Nelson tells the history of the Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920’s through its decline in 1947 when Jackie Robinson joined the majors. Nelson uses an “Everyman”, a fictional player, as the narrator that makes you feel as if you are right there in the stadium watching the Negro Leaguers’ play themselves. Nelson tells the story t ...more
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: educ-378
Text-to-Teaching Connection: What is a response activity that you can do in a classroom with children in response to the book? (e.g. drama, music, art, or writing)

After reading this book within a 2 week period, and taking 1 chapter or Inning a day. This would give the children a great way to understand how to play baseball. I would start with and introductions for about 2 days with all the items needed to play: baseball, baseball bat, baseball glove, 1 base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and Home Plate, B
Leslie Brevard
Dec 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sibert-medal
4th- 6th grades
Nelson did an interesting job picking the drawings he used in this book. There were many action photos as well as silent photos. I thought that even though they were not real photographs, they were drawn to look very real. The uniforms had dirt on them and the expressions on the men’s faces were so emotional. I also liked how he highlighted some of the pictures to really make the character stand out. The text in this book would be a little more difficult for younger readers. Even
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Jan 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 4-6grade
Note to self:

p. 66: end of the big paragraph -- People who didn't know anything about baseball came to the ballpark in their Sunday best just to be SEEN at the East-West Game, you hear? Black AND white. <-- an example of the conversational tone that makes this such an enjoyable read.

Bottom of same page: "The almighty dollar has a way of changing folks' minds."

p. 72: "I remember a bunch of the guys sitting around talking about Jackie and the stuff those white flaks were doing to him while he was
Phil Mitchell
Sep 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
I love baseball. It brings back not just the joy from my childhood playing the game but how my father and I quietly and intently watched anything related to baseball. This book reminded me one day of when the classic homerun derby was on television and my dad said, "Put it on." On the show, Jackie Robinson challenged Ted Williams. By dad said, " Son, you're about to watch the masters." I was hooked. In the end, Jackie Robinson won. He was mad. At first, I was confused. My father was no racist. I ...more
Debbie Reiber
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson is a nonfiction children’s book. This book won the Coretta Scott King Award for author and illustrator in 2009. The age group this book is intended for is intermediate to advance readers. The book describes how Negro baseball leagues developed and fell. But it also told the story of segregation and inequality, as well as strength, courage, patience, and tolerance.
I like the presentation of this book. I like how this story took o
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: info-bios
This beautiful picture book tells the true story of the Negro baseball league and what it was like to be a player during the early 1900’s through the late 1900’s. The story tells of living conditions that these players experienced, their daily life in regards to a “usual” schedule, and the prejudice that occurred as a result of the time periods. Readers go along on the journey with these players as we learn about the most famous players in history and how their lives changed as a result.
The ill
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