Joe Louis, My Champion

By Kirkus Reviews

One of the watershed moments in African-American history — the defeat of James Braddock at the hands of Joe Louis — is here given an earnest picture-book treatment. Despite his lack of athletic ability, Sammy wants desperately to be a great boxer, like his hero, getting boxing lessons from his friend Ernie in exchange for help with schoolwork. However hard he tries, though, Sammy just can’t box, and his father comforts him, reminding him that he doesn’t need to box; Joe Louis has shown him that he ‘can be the champion at anything [he] want[s].’ The high point of this offering is the big fight itself, everyone crowded around the radio in Mister Jake’s general store, the imagined fight scenes played out in soft-edged sepia frames.