Reviews for Jesse Owens : Fastest Man Alive


Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
In stirring free verse, Weatherford writes about Jesse Owens's amazing athletic feats, his disdain of Nazi Germany, and his day-to-day encounters with American segregation. The majority of the story is set at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where Owens won a record-breaking four gold medals. Velasquez's nicely textured pastels are a little stiff. Two pages of straightforward biographical information are appended. Reading list. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Spring
In stirring free verse, Weatherford writes about Jesse Owens's amazing athletic feats, his disdain of Nazi Germany, and his day-to-day encounters with American segregation. The majority of the story is set at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where Owens won a record-breaking four gold medals. Velasquez's nicely textured pastels are a little stiff. Two pages of straightforward biographical information are appended. Reading list. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2006 December #1
This soaring tribute to Owens reserves biographical details for the afterword, focusing instead on his Olympics experience from arrival in Berlin to triumphant ticker-tape parade back in New York. In free verse that occasionally verges on the hyperbolic ("Who knew that you would trample / German might like a clod of dust / in a field of glory?"), Weatherford describes each event, noting Hitler's hostility but also the support that Owens received, both from the crowds and from fellow athletes like Luz Long, his German competitor in the broad jump. Using pastels on rough paper, Velasquez mixes scenes of the muscular Owens in action with vignettes of other significant moments, aptly capturing the drama and excitement of the occasion. A pulse-pounding, if occasionally over-the-top, alternative to the more conventional likes of David A. Adler's Picture Book of Jesse Owens (1992) or Patricia and Frederick McKissack's Jesse Owens, Olympic Star (rev. ed., 2001). Perfunctory reading list appended. (Picture book/biography. 7-9) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 January #1

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.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2007 March

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.

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