Books by Jim Cooke

Released: March 1, 2005

The best-described hero in Lewis's book is actually in the author's note, where he writes about his school janitor at St. Mary of the Lake, who always made kids feel better. The 21 poems about heroic men and women unfortunately do not sing and sometimes do not even hum sweetly. These very short verses—16 lines at their longest—are each followed by a short paragraph giving some more information about their subject. These range from an acrostic about Roberto Clemente to a quick quatrain about The Elementary School Teacher ("A teacher is a person / unafraid / To get the third degree / From Second Grade!") to a free verse about Ida Wells-Barnett, a journalist who spoke out against lynching. Unfortunately, most of these are not felicitous, and the rhymes fall like hammers. The illustrations, oil paint on illustration board, feel ponderous. Gandhi looks like Yoda, Joan of Arc has long hair when one of the things everyone knows about her is that she cut hers short to wear men's garb and armor, and Cesar Chavez's head floats in a migrant workers' sky like the Wizard of Oz. Lewis has done wonderful work in the past; this one doesn't measure up. (author's note) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)Read full book review >