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The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrations by Kadir Nelson

c.2019, Versify
$17.99 / higher in Canada
40 pages

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor

You wanted it. And you wanted it very much.

But, ah, well, you didnít get it. You worked and you begged and maybe you even saved but you didnít get what it was that you wanted. You were sad, but you got over it. Youíll try again, work harder, save more and, as in The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson, one day, youíll reach your goal.

This book is just for you. But itís something you have to share because itís ďfor the unforgettable,Ē too. Itís for those people who opened the doors to all kinds of new opportunities for everyone, but they never became famous for it.

Itís for people who did whatever it took to get to America, to thrive and find a home and happiness. This book is for people who struggled, and for those who didnít.

Itís about people who were strong and were admired for that strength. Itís for those who believed in themselves but who also put their faith in a higher power. Itís for those who ďtackle visionĒ and those who donít hide their light behind anything, ever.

Itís for soldiers and dancers, marchers and players, boxers and parents and kids, and itís for you. Itís for Black lives that matter and for the people who never got a chance to know that. Itís because of the ďunspeakable.Ē

Share this book for those who wonít be stopped, whoíll keep dreaming and reaching and imagining and proving. Itís for the athletes we know, and for the ones we donít know about yet. Itís for performers we sing along with, and for songs not written. Itís for those who tried and tried until the last breath they had.

Youíll have to share it, but this book is for you. Itís ďfor us.Ē

The Undefeated is one of those things thatís really had to nail down.

Itís a quick read that may be too quick for some kids; itís over almost before it begins because author Kwame Alexanderís words are spare and not very attention-grabbing for the very youngest of children. It doesnít help that the picture-book-style illustrations are attractive but they arenít particularly colorful or active. 

For gradeschoolers, none of that will matter because The Undefeated is a poem set to picture and itís inspirational for them, especially if theyíre just learning about African American history. But thereís a possibility for those kids that the power behind the illustrations by Kadir Nelson might be missed because the stories of the people in this book are at the end and not always with the pictures.

Adults, however, might find this book to be a treasure. Alexanderís poem pulses with strength and the artwork, from an adultís POV, is perfectly rendered. You may recognize the people depicted Ė and if not, thereís always the back of the book.

The trick, perhaps, is to carefully share this book with the child you love, explain, and let it spark conversation. Once kids understand, The Undefeated is a book theyíll want very much.




Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 05/16/19 00:06:24 -0400.

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