“Stars in the Shadows”

By Charles R. Smith Jr. Age 8 and older.

Baseball is called America’s pastime, but this exciting book reminds us that not all Americans have always been treated fairly. Reading this book, which includes beautiful illustrations by Frank Morrison, is a lot like listening to the play-by-play call of a real baseball game.

The book tells the story of the 1934 Negro League All-Star Game. Until 1947, when Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the major leagues, some of the country’s best baseball players could play only in the Negro leagues.

“I hope kids get to see how unfair life was for people of color back then, because even though these athletes were great, what ultimately held them back was simply the color of their skin,” author Charles Smith said.

Charles Smith

The book takes readers through every aspect of the game, from the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before the start of the game to the action in each inning and even the radio ads that would have played between innings. The excitement builds as the game goes on and the best black players of their time make great plays in the field. The game goes down to the last out in the bottom of the ninth inning. (No, we’re not going to tell you who wins, but know that the outcome is as thrilling as any modern-day game.)

When the game — and the book — is over, you will probably feel as though you’ve been to an amazing baseball game in a time long ago. What a great way to celebrate summer.

Summer book club: List of the books

You might also like: “Heat Wave”

How to sign up for the club

— Tracy Grant