The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson
This extraordinary picture book combines a beautiful poem with stunning artwork to tell the story of African Americans that isn’t covered in many history classes. The book begins with a picture of Jesse Owens jumping out of the page and continues to depict the struggles and the unspeakable as well as the triumphs of both famous and ordinary people. Kadir Nelson is one of the most accomplished artists that illustrate children’s books today, and I think that this book is his masterpiece. Prepare to get chills.
— From Deb's Picks
The Newbery Award-winning author of THE CROSSOVER pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree.
Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.
About the Author
Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 28 books, including Rebound, the follow-up to his, Newbery medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover. Some of his other works include Booked, which was longlisted for the National Book Award, The Playbook: 52 Rules to Help You Aim, Shoot, and Score in this Game of Life, Swing, and the picture books, Out of Wonder and The Undefeated.
A regular contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, Kwame is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, The NCTE/Charlotte Huck Honor, Three NAACP Image Award Nominations, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. He believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people around the world through The Write Thing, his K-12 Writing Workshop. Kwame is the founder of Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the host and producer of the literary variety/talk show, Bookish, which airs on Facebook Watch. He's led cultural exchange delegations to Brazil, Italy, Singapore, and Ghana, where he built the Barbara E. Alexander Memorial Library and Health Clinic, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program he co-founded.
Kadir Nelson is a two-time Caldecott Honor recipient. Among his other awards are an NAACP Image Award, and the 2009 and 2014 Coretta Scott King Author Award. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and The New Yorker. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.
"[T]his magnificent anthem to the courage and genius of black Americans has been turned into a picture book with stunning portraits by Nelson....communicating clearly that when black lives matter, America is stronger." —Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
"Alexander's poetry possesses a straightforward, sophisticated, steady rhythm that, paired with Nelson's detail-oriented oil paintings, carries readers through generations...An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and our tomorrow." —Kirkus, STARRED review
"A beautiful volume that encourages multiple viewings and further research...With a lengthy roster of accolades and best-seller credits between them, this untouchable duo's book will fly off the shelf." —Booklist, STARRED review
"Alexander and Nelson honor the achievements, courage, and perseverance of ordinary black people as well as prominent black artists, athletes, and activists....creating a through-line from past to present." —The Horn Book, STARRED review
"[A] poignant and powerful ode to the resilience and strength of black life and history in America.... Alexander and Nelson present an exceptionally moving and triumphant work. This book is an essential first purchase." —School Library Journal, STARRED review