by Crystal Hubbard, (click the link on her name to read an author chat) illustrated by Robert McGuire. Lee & Low books, 2008. Cybils nonfiction picture book nominee. This fascinating picture book for middle and upper grades tells the life of Jimmy "Wink" Windfield, the last Black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby in 1902. The forward tells us that Black jockeys were common in 1875, when the Kentucky Derby was first run. By 1902 changing economic times and racism had pushed Black jockeys out of the sport. Wink suffered from hate groups and left the country after 1903. He continued to race in Europe and when he retired in France he had won over 2.600 races. Although he continued to love his country and his home in Kentucky he was never again treated with respect and courtesy or given the credit he deserved as one of the greatest jockeys in history.
The illustrations are vibrant and exciting. My two young boys are enthralled by the action and the thrill of the races. Older readers will be interested in the issues of racism, justice and equity. SLJ reviewer Diane Chen found the need to do further research with her students when they responded with pressing questions about the limitations racism forced on Wink Windfield. (She's got some great links and ideas in that post linked on her name.) That's the sign of a really good book doing it's job!
I received this book as a review copy and I am donating it to Flying Horse Farms. Author/poet/blogger Sara Lewis Holmes is starting a library of kid's horse books for this camp for kids with serious illnesses and their families. I think that's a fabulous idea! She's got a wish list going at Amazon full of wonderful books the campers will love. You can add your suggestions, make a donation, or send along a book or two yourself. Read more about it in her post here. It's a little thing that can go a long way towards making happiness for yourself and others this New Year!