BLACK JACK by Charles R. Smith Jr.

BLACK JACK

The Ballad of Jack Johnson
Age Range: 5 - 10
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Through poetry, quotations and some prose, the life of one of boxing’s most important stars is celebrated, from his youth as the victim of bullies to the 1908 championship bout against a white fighter that made him a legend. Readers get to know Jack Johnson, a man who never gave in to stereotypes and demanded to be treated equally, not as a second-class citizen. Though the author’s note continues the story in greater detail, the seamier side of Johnson’s life is left unreported, aside from his jail time for dating a white woman. Sometimes faltering rhythms and almost-rhymes make this a challenge to read aloud without plenty of practice. Evans’s dynamic art is at its best here: Johnson comes off big and powerful and strong, with his monumental body extending into many text areas. The title pages and final spread show Johnson, backlit by a powerful sun, the perfect visual metaphor for the hope he gave to black Americans of his time. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)

Pub Date: July 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59643-473-8
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2010




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