The Jockey & Her Horse: Inspired by the True Story of the First Black Female Jockey, Cheryl White

Abrams/Cameron. (Once Upon a Horse: Bk. 2). Sept. 2023. 208p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781951836696.
Gr 3-5–History becomes more inclusive by amplifying the remarkable stories of lesser-known groundbreakers. One such story is that of the first female Black jockey Cheryl White. Horse racing rose to popularity after being brought to America by enslaved Africans, and many of the earliest career jockeys were African Americans, like Oliver Lewis, winner of the first Kentucky Derby. In the 20th century, jockeying became a sport of white male competitors—a fact that didn’t faze 17-year-old Cheryl White. Growing up on a thoroughbred horse farm in the 1960s as a third-generation horse trainer meant White had horse racing in her blood. White’s tenacity and talent for jockeying was met in equal measure with the rampant racism and sexism of the time. Though obstacles came in many forms from many sources (even her father was hesitant to support her competing), White built a tremendously successful jockeying career. Coauthored by White’s brother Raymond White, Jr. and journalist Nir, this biographical narrative sticks closely to the events of Cheryl’s life as they transpired, the only exception being a quiz-show trip to Senegal. Young readers, especially those who are girls of color, will find a spark in White’s achievements.
VERDICT Pulitzer Prize–nominated Nir takes the notion of a horse book and elevates it to a work of inspiration. A recommended purchase for public and school library collections.

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