Wittenstein, Barry Waiting for Pumpsie Illustrated by London Ladd. Unpaged. Charlesbridge, 2017. $16.99. Picture Book.
Bernard is crazy, crazy, crazy for the Red Sox. It's 1959 and everyone in Boston is. But his baseball team still isn't integrated, even though Willie Mays plays for the Giants and Jackie Robinson has already retired from the Dodgers. Even the local hockey and basketball teams have black players. His parents tell him that change is coming and to root for all the colored players, no matter what team they're on. They attend a game at Fenway Park, and cheering for a black player on the other team angers some of the local white fans sitting nearby. Finally, with his beloved team in last place and wide-spread public pressure, Bernard hears that the team is bringing up a black player from the minor league, Pumpsie Green. The team plays several away games, and then, his dream comes true. The Red Sox play on their home field at Fenway Park for the first time as an integrated team with Pumpsie leading the action with a slide into third base. Bernard is in the stands cheering on his team and soaking up the moment.
Through the earnest voice of Bernard, this book captures the excitement of the game, as well as the slow pace change can take, such as adding a player of color to a beloved team. The pictures are realistically drawn in acrylic paint with some colored pencil and bring more intimacy to the story. The back material offers additional information about Pumpsie and the road to integrate this last professional baseball team. This is a solid historical fiction selection for any library.
EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE. Reviewed by P.K.Foster, teacher- librarian