Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson (Paperback)
This nonfiction picture book from author Charles R. Smith Jr and illustrated by Shane W. Evans tells the story of the world's first black heavyweight champion, the charismatic Jack "Black Jack" Johnson.
Born as Arthur John Johnson in the southern state of Texas, Jack Johnson was one of the most renowned boxers of the twentieth century. Through hard work and persistence, he climbed the ranks, taking a swing and a jab and eventually busting the color barrier. As the first black man to win the Heavyweight Championship, there was more than a title on the line.
Published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of this history-making bout (July 4, 1910). This is an extraordinary marriage of poetry, fabulous collage artwork, and a splendid achievement in its own right.
Shane W. Evans has created pictures for over 50 books for children, including Why?, Mixed Me!, and My Friend! He has worked with authors including Shaquille O'Neal, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Holly Robinson Peete. His awards and honors include Jane Addams Honor Book awards for Lillian's Right to Vote and We March; and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, all of which he wrote and illustrated. Shane also received an NAACP Image Award for his collaborative work with the Peete family on My Brother Charlie. Follow him at: shaneevans.com & dreamstudio777.com
“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.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“A rousing story, one that celebrates Johnson's dignity, pride, and determination.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The elegant simplicity and rat-a-tat rhythms land some stunners . . . enhanced by Evans' lithe and swaggering artwork, which lends a tremendous visual charisma, grace, and grandeur.” —Booklist, starred review
“The poetry is interspersed with quotes of the time, and illustrator Evans uses oil paint and ink to depict the somber, determined fighter, with collage elements of newspaper articles, maps, and crowds in the backgrounds to set the story firmly in time and place.” —Horn Book
“Charles Smith's poetry surges along, with a forceful rhythm that joins ballad and rap, as he follows "a mighty, fightin' man," challenging the color line as well as individual opponents around the world. Shane Evans' illustrations make Johnson's body a monument to intelligence and power.” —Chicago Tribune
“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.” —Kirkus Reviews
"Remarkable in its use of a compact, verse format to convey a great deal of biographical material." —Publishers Weekly