FICTION

The Hero Two Doors Down: A Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend

208p. Scholastic. Feb. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545804516; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545804530.
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Gr 4–6—This stirring tale of interracial and intergenerational friendship is based on a true story. Steven Satlow was seven years old in 1948 when Jackie Robinson and his family moved into the predominately Jewish section of Flatbush in Brooklyn, NY. Steve idolized Jackie and couldn't believe that his hero lived just two houses away. Ever gracious, Jackie welcomed the young fan into his home and family. Steven learned many lessons about tolerance, conflict resolution, and self-esteem from the quiet man who broke the color barrier in professional baseball. Occasionally moralizing, with dialogue that is at times stilted, the lessons are unmistakably teaching moments. After Steve gets into a fight, Jackie counsels him, "Punching someone who has verbally attacked you will only make things worse…. If you can, take the high road next time." The author also occasionally slips modern slang ("awesome," "game on") into their conversations, which seems slightly out of place. These minor issues, however, do not detract from a wonderful friendship story that has valuable lessons for all readers. The author is Jackie Robinson's daughter, and she and the Robinson family have remained lifelong friends with the Satlows, a true example of how friendships can cross racial divides.
VERDICT This should be a home run for baseball fans and anyone who loves an inspirational friendship story.

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