From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4–In this stirring picture book, Joe Louis inspires a young African-American boy named Sammy to reach for his dreams. It is 1937, and Louis is poised to be the heavyweight champion of the world. Sammy wants to be a boxer just like his hero, but to his utter frustration, he lacks the necessary physical prowess. After a pep talk from his friend, gentle words from his father, and careful introspection, the boy learns an important lesson. Though he may not be able to follow in the footsteps of Big Joe, he can strive to be the best at his own endeavors. Realistic oil paintings, many covering two pages, carry the story along. A glowing afterword highlights Louis's career and exemplary character. This offering will have particular appeal to fans of the "Brown Bomber," but its upbeat message is universal.–Ajoke' T. I. Kokodoko, Oakland Public Library, CA
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K-Gr. 3. Sammy yearns to be just like boxer Joe Louis. Growing up in a rural African American community in 1937, as the upcoming fight between Louis and Braddock is on everyone's mind, Sammy takes boxing lessons from Ernie, a bigger, stronger friend. When Sammy becomes discouraged about his potential as a boxer, Papa, Ernie, and storekeeper Mister Jake help him realize that he doesn't have to be a boxer to be like Joe Louis. If he works hard, he can overcome racial prejudice and become a champion in any field he chooses. An afterword gives information about Louis' life, his career, and his significance to African Americans. Written in first person from Sammy's point of view, the story is involving as well as purposeful. Pate's luminous oil paintings bring the era to life with well-individualized portrayals of people, some beautiful landscapes as backgrounds, and the effective use of monochromatic paintings to show the boxing match heard over the only radio in town. An effective look back. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved