Synopses & Reviews
Hard-hitting historical fiction
Ever since his father ran off two years before, fifteen-year-old Johnny Woods has struggled to help support his ma and five siblings, sacrificing his own schooling in the process. Still, there's been hardly enough money each month to make the rent, and Johnny's dream of a house in Brooklyn, away from the tenement slums, is out of reach.
Then Johnny discovers boxing. He is a natural-born fighter, with street smarts, determination, and an explosive uppercut. Although boxing is illegal in 1885 New York, Johnny powers his way through every obstacle, believing he has found the means to raise himself and his family out of poverty. But as he moves closer to his biggest fight yet, Johnny must reconcile his need to help his loved ones with a sharpening desire to achieve something outside the ring, starting with his education. In bringing to life Johnny's struggle and ultimate success, Kathleen Karr offers readers a compelling portrait of an appealing young champion.
"Karr (The Great Turkey Walk) offers an enticing mix of sports action, family drama and period detail in this saga of an amateur boxer growing up in 19th-century Manhattan. Fifteen-year-old Johnny's skill with his fists is as impressive as his high morals and deep devotion to family. After his drunken father runs off, Johnny assumes the role of head of the household. Money being tight, the teen attempts to earn an extra $5 by entering an illegal fight. His subsequent arrest turns out to be fortuitous. In jail, Johnny meets fellow convict Michael O'Shaunnessey, an ex-middleweight champ, who acts as Johnny's personal trainer, manager and mentor. The strenuous workouts Johnny and his new coach begin in their shared cell set into motion a series of events that continues long after their release from prison. On top of Johnny's goal of becoming a champ, he yearns to finish high school and move his family out of their tenement. Most readers will be willing to suspend their disbelief of Johnny's record number of wins long enough to cheer him on during his struggle to fight fair both inside and outside of the ring. The book's one-two-punch pacing and warmhearted resolutions will keep the pages turning. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"An enticing mix of sports, action, family drama and period detail in this saga of an amateur boxer growing up in 19th-century Manhattan . . . The book's one-two-punch pacing and warmhearted resolutions will keep the pages turning." --Publishers Weekly
Having learned how to box while in prison, fifteen-year-old Johnny sets out to discover if he can make a decent living as a fighter in late nineteenth-century New York City. d00::
About the Author
is the author of several books, including The Great Turkey Walk
, which was named a Best Book of the Year by both School Library Journal
and Publishers Weekly
. She lives with her family in Washington, D.C.