Synopses & Reviews
Born as Arthur John Johnson in the southern state of Texas, Jack Johnson was one of the most renowned boxers of the twentieth century. Through hard work and persistence, he climbed the ranks, taking a swing and a jab and eventually busting the color barrier. As the first black man to win the Heavyweight Championship, there was more than a title on the line. Published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of this history-making bout (July 4, 1910). This is an extraordinary marriage of poetry, fabulous collage artwork, and a splendid achievement in its own right.
"Jack Johnson was the first black fighter to win a heavyweight championship. The prospect of losing to a black man so worried reigning champion Jim Jeffries that, rather than fight Johnson, he retired; after Jeffries's successor lost to Johnson, public goading forced Jeffries out of retirement, whereupon Johnson defeated him, too. Smith (Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali) tells Johnson's story in loose-limbed verse, establishing Jack as a complex, driven man before laying the fact of his race and its consequences before readers. The word is like a slap: 'Behind the wheel of his car/ Jack was just Jack,/ but everywhere else,/ Jack was just black.' Evans (Olu's Dreams) draws forms that press forward out of the pages, big masses of muscle and glove barely held in by skinny inked lines. The scenes are static, tense; more action is in the typography. As the story gathers speed like a freight train, the letters shout in uppercase, marching across the page. A rousing story, one that celebrates Johnson's dignity, pride, and determination. Ages 5 8. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
CHARLES SMITH JR. is a celebrated author, poet, and photographer. He has created more than twenty books, including Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali,
a 2008 Corretta Scott King Honor Book
and a 2008 Norman Sugarman Best Biography Honor Book
his first novel for young adults.
He currently lives in Poughkeepsie, New York with his wife Gillian and three kids, Sabine, Adrian and Sebastian.
SHANE EVANS has illustrated numerous books for children, including the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner Shanna's Ballerina Show. He attributes much of his influence to his travels to Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and much of the United States. He is a firm believer in education and creative development for all people.