Jimmy the Greatest!

Jimmy the Greatest!

by Jairo Buitrago, Rafael Yockteng
     
 


Jimmy lives in a small Caribbean town where there's not a whole lot to do. Fortunately though, there is a boxing gym, and one day the owner, Don Apolinar, suggests that Jimmy start training. He also gives Jimmy a cardboard box full of books and newspaper clippings all about Muhammad Ali. Jimmy reads and re-reads as he never has before. He is swept with admiration…  See more details below

Overview


Jimmy lives in a small Caribbean town where there's not a whole lot to do. Fortunately though, there is a boxing gym, and one day the owner, Don Apolinar, suggests that Jimmy start training. He also gives Jimmy a cardboard box full of books and newspaper clippings all about Muhammad Ali. Jimmy reads and re-reads as he never has before. He is swept with admiration for Ali who said, "I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was." He starts to feel good, realizing that he doesn't need to have a lot of fancy stuff, that he's a pretty good boxer himself, and that he can look forward to the future. But by the time Don Apolinar has to leave for the big city, Jimmy realizes that he can have a great life running the gym, creating a library, dancing and boxing . . . right where he is.

Jairo Buitrago's simple yet inspiring story is complemented by Rafael Yockteng's funny, expressive illustrations, making this a book that will speak to many young readers.

The Spanish edition, ¡Jimmy, el más grande!, was recently named one of "Los mejores libros del año" (Best Books of the Year) by Venezuela's Banco del Libro.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This poignant, funny creation from the team behind Sopa de frijoles/Bean Soup seems to promise big things for its hero. Wide-eyed Jimmy lives in a ramshackle, tin-roofed village, painted by Yockteng in a style that’s half folk-naïf, half Matt Groening. Jimmy finds out about Muhammad Ali from a boxful of old newspapers and, galvanized, starts training in the local gym. “He wasn’t thinking about what he didn’t have anymore.... He didn’t need much stuff to run.” As he gains confidence—“Not many people dared to get in the ring with him”—momentum builds. But it’s Jimmy’s trainer, Don Apolinar, who leaves for the big city, while Jimmy stays behind; he ends up coaching kids at the gym. “This is my town,” he says. “There are donkeys, three sheep and the great huge sea.... But we’re really great.” Readers expecting a triumphant, Rocky-like ending get a taste of Jimmy’s disappointment instead. Buitrago isn’t preaching, either—Jimmy’s just an ordinary guy, not a moral hero. This is a genuine, bighearted picture of life in a Third World village that neither romanticizes poverty nor evokes pity—and it packs a powerful punch. Ages 4–7. (May)
From the Publisher

A Kirkus Best Children's Book of 2012

New York Public Library Top 100 Books for Children and Youth, 2012

"Eye-opening inspiration in this unassuming import from Colombia." —Kirkus, starred review

"…quietly powerful title."—Booklist, starred review

"This gentle tale of self-fulfillment and acceptance will be a winning addition to collections."—School Library Journal, starred review

"In a world where so many must leave their homes to find work, it's inspiring to see Jimmy able to do a truly great thing, right where he wants to."—Horn Book, starred review

"This is a genuine, bighearted picture of life in a Third World village that neither romanticizes poverty nor evokes pity–and it packs a powerful punch."—Publishers Weekly

"Who was Muhammed Ali? Jimmy read and re-read the books and clippings . . . His mother was surprised to see Jimmy reading and shadow-boxing at the same time."
— from the book

Children's Literature - Janice DeLong
In a tiny Latin American town where there is only one small church, a little gym, and not many houses, young Jimmy begins to learn about boxing, Muhammad Ali, and reading. Fortunately, the owner of the gym knows how to inspire the village boys, which he does with clippings about "The Greatest," Ali. However, as Jimmy devours the printed word and thrives on the exercise and competition in the ring, he develops character as well, strengthening his mind and body. When the time comes that the owner of the gym chooses to go to the city where opportunities are richer, Jimmy decides to stay in his village, maintain the gym, and create a library. Sometimes people thought he was strange when he talked to the children about "things like respect and dignity," but Jimmy knew what he wanted and how to be the greatest in his village. Yachteng's illustrations, colorful and often humorous, are the perfect accompaniment for this inspiring tale. Originally written in Spanish, Jimmy, el mas grande! was recently named one of "Los mejores libros del ano" (Best Books of the Year) in Venezuela's Banco del Libro. This inspiring story can spark discussion with young readers about values, goals, and the importance of giving back to their communities. Reviewer: Janice DeLong
Kirkus Reviews
In a thought-provoking twist on the usual immigrant story, a village lad elects to stay put. Though Jimmy's town is just a scattering of shacks on a broad beach, there is a tiny gym, owned by Don Apolinar. He gives Jimmy a box full of books and clippings about Muhammad Ali that sparks a yen in the boy to become a boxer. Yockteng depicts the tall, dark-skinned lad running across a sun-drenched landscape at the head of a gaggle of laughing children. He shadow boxes and demonstrates his strength by letting a goat butt him in the chest, carrying huge loads of fish and other feats. But when Don Apolinar departs for the big city, where there are "real jobs," Jimmy decides to stay, taking over the gym and adding a library to it. "Maybe one day he'll get a match," the narrative concludes, but then it gives Jimmy the last words: "Listen to me. / This is my town. / … / We dance and we box / and we don't / sit around waiting / to go someplace else." Idealized as it may be, the idyllic setting and smiling, bright-eyed faces on view in the illustrations make his choice easy to understand. Eye-opening inspiration in this unassuming import from Colombia. (Picture book. 6-8)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781554981786
Publisher:
Groundwood Books
Publication date:
04/24/2012
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
AD680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Read an Excerpt


Don Apolinar gave him a cardboard box filled with books and newspaper clippings. There was also a note saying,“Muhammad Ali’s bike was stolen when he was little.”
But, who was Muhammed Ali?
Jimmy read and re-read the books and clippings. He read as he never had before using the glasses that he had never worn . . .
His mother was surprised to see Jimmy reading and shadow-boxing at the same time.

Meet the Author


Jairo Buitrago is a children’s book author who has collaborated with Rafael Yockteng on several picture books, and together they won the “A la Orilla del Viento” contest (Mexico). Buitrago has also been named to IBBY’s Honor List.
Rafael Yockteng was born in Peru, but has lived in Colombia for most of his life. He has illustrated many highly acclaimed children’s books, including Sopa de frijoles / Bean Soup by Jorge Argueta (USBBY Outstanding International Books Honor List) and Mandaderos de la lluvia / Messengers of Rain, a bilingual anthology of Latin American poetry selected by Claudia M. Lee. He also won (with Jairo Buitrago) the “A la Orilla del Viento” contest, organized by Fondo de Cultura Econo´mica de Me´xico.

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