There is beauty about a story that brings together perseverance, finding one’s place in the world and fighting a battle for the country. All this and sports too. And it’s a true story. I don’t know what it is about Joe Louis and boxing. I don’t even like boxing, but I love, love this book.
The book frames the story with the fight between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, a German, in 1938. The tensions of Nazi Germany and Jim Crow America are thick, but black and white Americans stand together behind Joe Louis. Joe Louis’s story of growing up, perseverance and sportsmanship leads him to this iconic fight. Joe Louis, already a boxing hero, became a hero for the whole nation on this night.
It’s so well done, I can’t say enough about it.
Kadir Nelson slows down the images and gives each one such impact and beauty. Lyrical prose by Matt de la Peña inspires and builds to the crescendo. Pictures and words are perfectly matched. This is what a picture book can do.