Total Pageviews

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Jimmy The Greatest, written by Jairo Buitrago with pictures by Rafael Yockteng and translated by Elisa Amado. Groundwood Books, 2012. $18.95 ages 4 and up

"In his heart
Jimmy was
already a boxer,
even though
there were no
boxing gloves
at the gym,
and someone
there, maybe
by mistake, had
taken his shoes."

We're not sure where Jimmy lives; we do know that he is happy there. His small town lies on a sandy beach near water, and has a church, and a gym with a boxing ring. The gym is a meeting place filled with action. Don Apolinar owns the gym and sees Jimmy as a promising athlete. He sends him out on a run.

With not much else to do in town, Jimmy begins training in earnest and soon shares his future dreams with his grandfather: he wants to be a boxer. Hoping to encourage that dream, Don Apolinar provides a box chock full of books, and newspaper reports on a famous boxer named Muhammad Ali. As Jimmy reads, he learns more and more about the man and some of his memorable quotes:

"I done wrestled with an alligator,
I done tusseled with a whale,
handcuffed lightning,
thrown thunder in jail."

Jimmy has a new hero, and a renewed interest in making himself the best boxer he can be. He also used his time to read:

"His mother
was surprised
to see Jimmy
reading and
boxing at the
same time."

He fills his days with training and recognizes that a runner needs little more than his feet to get better. He becomes a pied piper of sorts to other children in his village. They watch as he reads, and trains, and reads, and trains some more. He is determined to improve himself:

"Jimmy liked to talk about strange
things like respect and dignity, though
people didn't always listen."

Everything is coming up Jimmy and he is happy. When Don Apolinar has to make a move away from the village in order to better his life, Jimmy is happy for him. He says goodbye and wishes him well. Following his beloved coach's departure, Jimmy works to improve life in his own village. In doing so, he makes an important discovery about himself.

The sandy backgrounds are surrounded by blue skies and wide sea expanses. Shacks litter the beach, and much information is included in the detailed illustrations. The rich yellows, browns and tans create a setting that lends warmth to this story of a boy who recognizes that he has something to offer. The people are busy and happy, working with purpose and playing with abandon. There is much that makes Jimmy's home worthy of hard work and leadership. He finds that he is fine with this new role.

He is a character worthy of admiration and emulation:

"Listen to me.
This is my town.
There are donkeys, three sheep
and the great huge sea.
There are no elegant houses
or fancy things. 
But we're really great."   

No comments:

Post a Comment