Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2010
: To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Jack Johnson becoming the first black man to win the World Heavyweight Championship on July 4, 1910, award-winning author Charles R. Smith Jr. and illustrator Shane W. Evans have teamed up to create the powerful and poignant Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson
which chronicles Johnson’s life, from early on as the child of two former slaves to his crowning achievement. In capturing Johnson’s battles in and out of the ring, the authors relay one of life’s most important messages: never give up on your dreams, no matter what barriers stand in your way.
A Look Inside Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson
(Click on Images to Enlarge)
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 2-5 Art and text work powerfully together to tell the story of the first African-American heavyweight champion. Smith begins by telling readers that Black Jack was his OWN man. These bold words skillfully set the tone for the tale of how a shy, fearful young man learned to fight back and become one of history's more compelling personalities. Books play a role in the young man's development biographies of Napoleon and Isaac Murphy (an African-American jockey) inspired Johnson to become a great man himself. Smith's brisk, rhythmic text captures the boxer's energy and vigor. For example, But what Jack wanted most/was to be a great man/so he challenged the times./But it was Jack who was challenged/when he faced the color line. Evans's illustrations perfectly complement the text, using bold colors and strong brushstrokes to convey the athlete's larger-than-life personality. An endnote entitled And Then What Happened? provides an overview of the rest of Johnson's life. This book is sure to be championed by reluctant readers with energy and restlessness just like Johnson's, but it is a strong selection for library and classroom read-alouds as well. Mary Landrum, Lexington Public Library, KY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.