The Undefeated

by Kwame Alexander (Author) Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

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.


School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 3 Up—This inaugural title from Newbery Medalist Alexander's new imprint is a poignant and powerful ode to the resilience and strength of black life and history in America. Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated in 2016, the poem adopts a picture book format with a new title, accompanied by stunning oil paintings in Nelson's trademark photorealistic style. The evocative illustrations stand out against stark white backgrounds and vary in their composition. On some spreads, the focus is on a single expressive portrait; others feature collages of African American icons from various disciplines, or refer to significant historical moments. The art functions in perfect harmony with the poet's spare, striking verse to electrify the Black American experience, and to celebrate black athletes, writers, musicians, activists, and heroes. From the unspeakable trauma of American slavery and the transatlantic slave trade to the brave service of black troops during the Civil War, from the fierce and unwavering fight for civil rights to the Black Lives Matter movement, from Selma to Birmingham to Harlem, this book is both a soaring tribute to the enduring perseverance and achievements of the past and a stirring call to action to "the dreamers and the doers" of the present and the future. Back matter includes an afterword from the author as well as additional information about the historical figures and events featured in the book. VERDICT Alexander and Nelson present an exceptionally moving and triumphant work. This book is an essential first purchase for all libraries. -Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, Elkins Park, PA

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"[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
Kwame Alexander
Kwame Alexander is a poet and the New York Times best-selling author of Newbery Medal-winner The Crossover and Caldecott Medal-winner The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, which was also longlisted for the National Book Award and won a Newbery Honor and a CSK Illustrator Award. Kwame is the founder of Versify, an imprint of HMH. kwamealexander.com, Twitter and Instagram: @kwamealexander.
Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9781328780966
Lexile Measure
N/A
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publication date
April 20, 2019
Series
-
Caldecott
Medal 2020 - 2020

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!