The United States v. Jackie Robinson

by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (Author) R Gregory Christie (Illustrator)

The United States v. Jackie Robinson
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

A moving and inspiring nonfiction picture book about Jackie Robinson's court martial trial--an important lesser-known moment in his lifetime of fighting prejudice with strength and grace. Students who have been introduced to this American hero from such books as Brad Meltzer's I Am Jackie Robinson can take a deeper look at a key event in his life with The United States v. Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Robinson broke boundaries as the first African American player in Major League Baseball. But long before Jackie changed the world in a Dodger uniform, he did it in an army uniform.

As a soldier during World War II, Jackie experienced segregation every day--separate places for black soldiers to sit, to eat, and to live. When the army outlawed segregation on military posts and buses, things were supposed to change. So when Jackie was ordered by a white bus driver to move to the back of a military bus, he refused. Instead of defending Jackie's rights, the military police took him to trial. But Jackie would stand up for what was right, even when it was difficult to do.

This nonfiction picture book is a strong choice for sharing at home or in the classroom--as Booklist noted: "A story that will appeal to both baseball fans and those looking for an interesting way to highlight lesser-known aspects of the fight for civil rights."

With an author's note, a timeline, bibliography, and more, this book offers helpful resources for readers, teachers, and librarians to find out more about Jackie Robinson and the history of civil rights in the US.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Powerfully illustrates that this groundbreaking American icon’s commitment to equality did not begin or end with baseball—his courage was a lifelong trait.


A story that will appeal to both baseball fans and those looking for an interesting way to highlight lesser-known aspects of the fight for civil rights.

Publishers Weekly

Before he made baseball history, Jackie Robinson fought segregation in the U.S. Army. Bardhan-Quallen (Brobot Bedtime) focuses on Robinson's acts of resistance, including his refusal to give up his seat on a military bus, for which he was court martialed: "He was one of the first black Americans to challenge a segregation law in court. And he won." The story jumps from this victory to Robinson's post-Army life, as he played baseball with the Negro League Monarchs, minor league Royals, and Brooklyn Dodgers, where he cemented his legacy as the first African-American major leaguer. Raw, sweeping brushstrokes bring a sense of extemporaneous energy to Christie's gouache paintings. Readers who only associate Robinson with the baseball diamond will recognize how his success depended as much on his perseverance as his batting average. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Rachell Orr, Prospect Agency. (Jan.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 3-6--Bordhan-Quallen does not mince words when retelling how Jackie Robinson, not yet the iconic ball player, was arrested and subject to a court-martial when he was in the army for sitting at the front of a bus. The author reiterates throughout that many white people "didn't see an officer in the United States Army. They only saw a black man." In Christie's acrylic gouache painted illustrations, Robinson is usually placed in the center, surrounded by often-angry white faces. Christie elegantly shows readers a visual representation of how Robinson must have felt everyday--different, out of place, resented. A substantial amount of back matter reinforces the storylike narrative. Bordhan-Quallen includes a time line of the history of segregation in the United States along with Robinson's life, in addition to a bibliography. An author's note with commentary on the importance of standing up for what's right is also included. VERDICT There are many biographies on Jackie Robinson, but this is a worthy addition that focuses on a period of his life before baseball.--Kerri Williams, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen has written a number of books for children. She lives in New Jersey. Visit her online at Courtney Martin is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. She lives in Manchester, Connecticut. Visit her online at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
Publication date
January 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JNF018010 - Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JNF053140 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Social Topics | Prejudice & Racism
JNF025210 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | United States/20th Century
JNF025130 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | Military & Wars
JNF007100 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Sports & Recreation
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
Robinson, Jackie
Trials, litigation, etc
Trials (Military offenses)

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