Weatherford (Moses ) addresses her poetic tribute to Jesse Owens's remarkable performance at the 1936 Berlin Olympics to the athlete himself: "Go from cotton fields to city sidewalks,/ from sickly child to keen competitor,/ from second-class citizen to first-place finish./ Go, Jesse, go. Trounce Jim Crow./ Run as fast as your feet can fly,/ as far as your dreams will reach." This allows the author to weave in subtle references and to make readers feel like privileged insiders (e.g., "find new track shoes/ to replace the ones you lost in New York"). The narrative follows Owens to Berlin, where Nazi flags line the streets, and beyond the city, to sobering images that Owens, and spectators of the Games, were "not meant to see"â€"the concentration camps. Hitler's presence casts a dark shadow over Owens's brilliance on the track ("Hitler does not want your kind here,/ does not believe you belong./ Prove him wrong"). After describing the fourth of the athlete's gold medal clinching events, Weatherford asks, "Who'd have thought/ that a sharecropper's son,/ the grandson of slaves,/ would crush Hitler's pride?" In the tale's final victorious note, Owens rides "like a prince" in the lead car of a Manhattan ticker-tape parade honoring his team. An endnote provides facts about Owens's life before and after his Olympic feats. Sometimes calling to mind old-time photographs, Velasquez's (The Other Mozart , reviewed above) pleasingly grainy pastels easily convey the movement and speed, determination and triumph at the core of Owens's uplifting story. Ages 6-11. (Jan.)[Page 49]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 2-6-- The year is 1936, and Owens is about to win an unprecedented four Olympic gold medals in Berlin, toppling Hitler's dream to showcase Aryan superiority. Written in second-person narration, the book focuses tightly on Owens's accomplishments, giving details about each of the four races and his role in uniting people across racial lines. Rich pastel illustrations, many of them based on historical photographs, make this title stand out from biographies illustrated with black-and-white photographs. As a picture book, it gives a sparsely detailed sketch of the events and has a few references that will need further explanation, such as Jim Crow, the autobahn, and concentration camps. The author omits the controversy surrounding Owens's last-minute replacement of a Jewish runner in the 400-meter relay. Briefly referring to the sprinter's childhood and segregation in the United States, the narrator encourages him to "Trounce Jim Crow," illustrated with a fictionalized picture of him running past segregated water fountains. What details exist are clearly researched. The book works well as an introduction for students old enough to begin talking about segregation in the United States and Hitler's Germany. Endnotes give background information.--Suzanne Myers Harold, Multnomah County Library System, Portland, OR[Page 236]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.