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The Undefeated (Caldecott Medal Book) Hardcover – Picture Book, April 2, 2019

4.9 out of 5 stars 2,142 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

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, PAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review

A Best Book of 2019 from: New York Times * NPR * Horn Book * Kirkus * Publishers Weekly * School Library Journal * New York Public Library * Chicago Public Library * Raleigh News & Observer

New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Longlist
Kirkus Prize Finalist


"[A] powerful tribute to the African-American experience, replete with joy and pride in the accomplishments of individual artists and athletes, leaders, and thinkers.... Poetry knows when to lean forward and when to pull back, and in 'The Undefeated,' Alexander has walked that line perfectly. This book will fill readers with a sense of the wealth and the cost of history."New York Times Book Review

"Dramatic oil paintings expand on a deeply personal poem to showcase 'dreamers and doers,' united in solemn testimony: Black history matters."San Francisco Chronicle

"An empowering look at the history of black Americans."The Takeaway

"[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

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Versify; Illustrated edition (April 2, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 40 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1328780961
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1328780966
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 6 - 9 years
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 1 - 4
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.25 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 11 x 0.45 x 10.5 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.9 out of 5 stars 2,142 ratings

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About the author

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Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, publisher, and New York Times Bestselling author of 35 books, including BECOMING MUHAMMAD ALI (co-authored with James Patterson), SOLO, REBOUND, which was shortlisted for prestigious UK Carnegie Medal, The Caldecott Medal and Newbery Honor-winning picture book, THE UNDEFEATED, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and, his NEWBERY medal-winning middle grade novel, THE CROSSOVER. A regular contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, Kwame is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, Three NAACP Image Award Nominations, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. In 2018, he opened the Barbara E. Alexander Memorial Library and Health Clinic in Ghana, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program he co-founded. Kwame is the Founding Editor of VERSIFY, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that aims to Change the World One Word at a Time.

Kwame's most recent book is LIGHT FOR THE WORLD TO SEE: A THOUSAND WORDS ON RACE AND HOPE. Find out more info on Kwame and where he'll be at www.KwameAlexander.com.

Customer reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5
2,142 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on March 27, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on April 16, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on April 14, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have B♡♡K!
By Crystal on April 14, 2019
I loved this book! Mr. Alexander's poem was beautifully written and captured the essence and significance of African Americans throughout history. Mr. Nelson's powerful artwork brought Mr. Alexander's words to life. After reading this book, hopefully your voice will be lifted, and you will use it to inform, empower, and inspire others. I am grateful that this dynamic duo created a picture book that needs to be shared with every adult and child.
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14 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on June 22, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on April 2, 2019
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Top reviews from other countries

Red Bus Book Lover
5.0 out of 5 stars Stark, stunning, strong and important
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 6, 2020
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PH
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 10, 2020
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april
5.0 out of 5 stars great pictures
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 29, 2020
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MISS L J TURNER
5.0 out of 5 stars My son loves this book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 5, 2020
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elisabetta
5.0 out of 5 stars Libro meraviglioso ma rovinato !
Reviewed in Italy on November 13, 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars Libro meraviglioso ma rovinato !
Reviewed in Italy on November 13, 2021
The Undefeated è un albo illustrato di qualità superba! Con poche parole scelte attentamente l’autore arriva diritto al punto: “black lives matter”. Le illustrazioni, anche quando non ci sono, portano con se mille significati a sottolineare la tematica: brotherhood and non - violent social change. MA AMAZON, non ci siamo: come si può consegnare un libro in queste condizioni? La sovracopertina è sporca di … bagnoschiuma? Detersivo? E così gli angoli del libro. Negativo! Più cura grazie.
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