Stars in the Shadows by Charles R. Smith Jr. illus. by Frank Morrison
Smith's newest book is play by play of the second Negro League All star game in 1934. A large part of the baseball experience is the announcer, from how they call the came to the chatter to fill the down time. Each chapter is a different inning. Readers will be able to easily follow the game thanks to the author posting the line up for each team in the beginning. Some of the Negro League players like Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell or Oscar Charleston may be familiar to readers. However highlighting this allstar game gives Smith the chance to introduce some players like Larry Brown, Willie Wells and Vic Harris who are less well known. I won't tell you the final score. However I will say that it was a low scoring game. Between chapters there are fun sponsor ads from local Chicago businesses including Sweet Amelia's Soul Cuisine and South Side Shears.
I am a fan of Frank Morrison work, I love what he's doing with the Keena Ford series, his cover art for the paperback edition of One Crazy Summer is gorgeous and I'll point out just one more, The Hat That Wore Clara B. its a great story and I absolutely love Morrison's illustrations.
I am a baseball traditionalist at heart. (anti designated hitter). This extends to my feelings about illustrations. While I enjoy Morrison's work a lot, for me his style didn't fit this story as much as I would've liked. With illustrated baseball books I prefer a more straight forward style in which I can make out the close plays at the plate.
Smith inculdes a lot of intriguing facts about the players. When readers finish Stars in the Shadows they will to know more about the Negro League and its players. Smith is a sport fan, who has once written a sports novel that other fans will enjoy.