In this short Q&A, the author of BLACK JACK: The Ballad of Jack Johnson talks about the inspiration and importance of writing this story for young readers.
“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
“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.” —Starred, School Library Journal
“A rousing story, one that celebrates Johnson's dignity, pride, and determination.” –Starred, Publishers Weekly
“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
“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.” —Starred, Booklist
“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
The Ballad of Jack Johnson