Review

Booklist - A Fist for Joe Louis and Me

Cover: A Fist for Joe Louis and Me

The 1938 boxing match between American Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling was known as the Fight of the Century, and Noble filters this historic event through the eyes of Gordy, a boxing-loving African American kid in Detroit. When his mother begins working for a Jewish tailor, Gordy bonds with the tailor’s son, Ira, over boxing, and the boys take turns pretending to be Louis in fake backyard matches, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the big night. At times the symbolic nature of the fight is doled out with too heavy a hand, but the friendship between the boys rings true. Tadgell’s watercolor illustrations turn Depression-era Detroit into a thing of beauty, with crepuscular purples, blues, and gold washing over skyline scenes, fan-filled boxing arenas, marching soldiers, and, of course, the boys at play. One especially memorable illustration shows the boys facing off, their shadows spilling forth their boxing names, Gordy Steel and Iron Ira. An author’s note provides extra context for this entry in the Tales of Young America series.

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