Jimmy the Greatest!

Jimmy the Greatest! By . cassette or CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-6200-3, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-5. $15.75; hardcover book, ISBN 97801-5549-8178-6: $18.95.
PreS-Gr 2—Jimmy lives in a small Caribbean town with "one small church and if you're lucky, a little gym where you can hit a punching bag." At the gym, Jimmy learns about the history and struggles of boxer Muhammad Ali and is discovered by trainer Don Apolinar. Seeing similarities between Ali and himself, Jimmy reads and re-reads the books and clippings about Ali that Apolinar gave him—even while he shadowboxes. When Don leaves the community, Jimmy stays to "maintain the gym" and "create a library." Meager text (translated from the Spanish by Elisa Amado), peppered with Ali-like phrasing and subtle, expressive illustrations by Rafael Yockteng creates an atypical story of loving who you are and your community. More than a passing mention of creating a library and Jimmy's quest for respect and dignity could have given Buitrago's story (Groundwood, 2010) more substance. Children are drawn to the boxing legend's story, so Jimmy's interest in Ali and the clippings and books he reads can be tied to fact vs. fiction, biography, and cultural diversity lessons. Luis Moreno's narration is precise and well paced, and he varies his delivery appropriately while quoting Ali. Page-turn signals are optional.—Jane Newschwander, Fluvanna County Public Schools, VA

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