Cover image for Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy
Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy
Bildner, Phil.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2002.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 30 cm
Shoeless Joe Jackson, said by some to be the greatest baseball player ever, goes into a hitting slump just before he is to start his minor league career, so he asks his friend to make him a special bat to help him hit.
Reading Level:
790 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.8 0.5 57764.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.9 2 Quiz: 32620 Guided reading level: O.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV865.J29 B55 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
GV865.J29 B55 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
GV865.J29 B55 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
GV865.J29 B55 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



Some say Shoeless Joe Jackson was the greatest hitter ever. But Shoeless Joe had a partner: his bat, Black Betsy. And if not for the faithful Black Betsy, Joe might never even have made it to the major leagues.
This is the story of two great partners in baseball history -- Shoeless Joe Jackson and his bat, Black Betsy.

Author Notes

Phil Bildner received a B. A. in political science from Johns Hopkins University in 1990 and a J. D. from New York University School of Law in 1993. He was admitted to the bar in both New York and New Jersey and got a job as an associate at a large Manhattan law firm. After practicing law for a year, he decided to pursue a career in education. He received a master's degree in early childhood and elementary education from Long Island University in 1995. He stopped teaching in 2006 in order to write full time.

His picture books include Shoeless Joe and Black Betsy, The Shot Heard 'Round the World, Twenty-One Elephants, Turkey Bowl, The Hallelujah Flight, and The Soccer Fence. Marvelous Cornelius won the 2016 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children's Literature. His young adult novels include Playing the Field and Busted. He also co-created the Sluggers series with Loren Long.

In 2007, he began chaperoning student-volunteer trips to Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. He co-founded The NOLA Tree, a non-profit service organization.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2-4. Bildner turns the story of baseball star Shoeless Joe Jackson into an amusing picture-book tall tale. Worried about succeeding in the minor leagues, Joe has his friend Ol' Charlie make him a special bat, which he names Betsy after Betsy Ross. (It becomes Black Betsy when Joe has Charlie coat it with tobacco juice.) The hits come in bunches until Jackson is called up to the majors. More trips to Charlie ensue, with the old-timer dispensing sage advice: "Don't you know Black Betsy needs warmth and love? She needs to sleep in your bed every night." Finally, Joe treats Betsy just right, and his rookie season is a triumph. Payne's realistic mixed-media illustrations do the story justice, capturing the look of baseball in the teens and `20s and helping make a costar of Black Betsy. A lengthy afterword discussing Jackson's role in the 1919 Black Sox scandal fails to mention that, while Joe didn't participate in throwing the World Series, most sources agree that he did accept money to do so. Younger children with good attention spans may enjoy hearing this read aloud. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

One of baseball's greats receives star treatment in this compelling book. Shortly before "Shoeless Joe" Jackson (so named for having played a game in his stocking feet) joins the minors, he falls into a slump, and out of desperation ends up in the workshop of "the finest bat smith in all of South Carolina." Joe names the bat Ol' Charlie Ferguson makes for him Betsy ("Pitchers are going to honor and respect this bat the way they respect the flag Betsy Ross created," the hero states), but the slump continues. So does the partnership between the two men as Ol' Charlie refines the bat's design it's remade from the "north side of a hickory tree" and rubbed down with tobacco juice so it will be "dark and scary-looking" and Joe learns how to massage it with sweet oil and keep it wrapped in cotton ("Cotton will make Black Betsy feel right at home in Cleveland," Ol' Charlie tells him). Finally Betsy takes him to the major leagues and his finest season ever. Rookie Bildner hits a home run here, zeroing in on the bat as just the right lens through which to view his picture book biography. He strews the conversational prose with appealing colloquialisms in a catchy refrain ("sure as the sky is blue and the grass is green"). Payne's (The Remarkable Farkle McBride) portraits take on a tall-tale quality suffused with nostalgia; his strong-featured characters offer a riveting blend of humor and gravity. An afterword fills in the details of Jackson's life and career, including the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Ages 5-8. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Slugger Joe Jackson was more than careful with his favorite bat. The book concludes with a short biography about the athlete and a page of his major league statistics. Baseball statistics can be expanded into a math lesson. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.