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Perfect Timing: How Isaac Murphy Became One of the World's Greatest Jockeys Hardcover – February 1, 2011
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5–This picture-book biography describes how 12-year-old Murphy, the grandson of slaves, accepted a chance offer to ride a racehorse in 1873 in Lexington, KY, changing his life forever. He became one of the most successful jockeys in history, holding records that remain unbroken to this day. The exciting depiction of a match race in 1890, an event for just two horses and riders, concisely captures the action and drama of the sport. Trollinger's prose style is clear but not oversimplified, and she does not sidestep the issue of the eating disorder that led to Murphy's death at 35. An author's note explains that Murphy's perfect timing pertained not only to a horse race but also to his career. If he had raced 20 years earlier it would have been as a slave, and 20 years later, racial discrimination had forced most black jockeys out of racing. Lagarrigue's russet-hued oil paintings are vibrant and full of movement. This interesting biography is unique in its historical perspective on race relations and sports.–Ann Robinson, Moultonborough Academy Library, NH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This picture-book biography, Trollinger's debut title, celebrates a legendary African American jockey. Using the jockey's "perfect timing" as a framework, Trollinger begins with a serendipitous moment, when Murphy was 12, that started his career. Off-track scenes, such as Murphy's marriage, appear, but Trollinger focuses on Murphy's rigorous training and the thrilling races, described in moment-by-moment detail. The straightforward text will read aloud well, and the subject will interest boys and girls alike. Lagarrigue's elegant paintings wonderfully enhance the story. As in his illustrations for Deborah Wiles' Freedom Summer (2000), for which he received the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award, the images reinforce the story's sense of looking back through time with blurred, abstract acrylics, which, like memories or historical stories, only capture part of the picture. Kids will be drawn particularly to scenes on the track, spiked with the color of bright silk uniforms, which evoke the speed and the excitement of both horse and rider. A note adds more historical context about African Americans in horse racing. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Author, Patsi Trollinger makes the point that Isaac Burns Murphy's timing was perfect in life as well as on the track. The son of a slave, he lived at a time when black jockeys could enjoy a successful career in racing, before they were forced out of the sport early in the 20th century.
Trollinger describes his career beginning with his early training in Lexington where he learned the importance of pace and concentration. Murphy went on to become one of the most sought after jockeys of his time. The exciting match race between Salvatore and Tenny is told in such detail that the reader feels like they are standing at the rail watching the race.
Jerome Lagarrigue's soft focus paintings convey the speed and power of the horses. The colors are dark and muddied which imparts the yesteryear feel of the story. The reader eyes do need to linger on the pictures to fully appreciate and discern the images.
Isaac Burns Murphy had a reputation for honesty and fair play.
"He had rules for himself that were firm: no cheating, no fighting, no swearing. And he rode every race, large of small, as if it was the most important one of his life."
This is a lovely tribute to a man of character and who might otherwise be unknown to this generation.
Isaac Murphy. Even now, over a century after his death, the very mention of his name inspires reverence among most racing fans. Patsi Trollinger gives a good intro to Murphy's life and career in Perfect Timing, a book aimed at, roughly, the preschool set. Her clear prose is well-complemented by Jerome LaGarrigue's impressionist illustrations. A worthy addition to the bookshelf of any horse racing fan, or any horse racing fan's child. ****