Title: The Undefeated
Author: Kwame Alexander
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Andersen Press
Genre: Children’s picture book
Book format: Hardback
Description: This is for the unforgettable. The unafraid. The undefeated.
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: This is an interesting book which is a great one to look at during Black History Month as well as any time of year. ‘The Undefeated’ is a hardback which is a bit bigger than A4 in width and is filled with glossy thick pages of pictures and some text. The book features a poem that was written by the author some time ago and pictures on each double page that correspond with the words of the poem.
The words of the poem or story are powerful and interesting although I’m not sure all children will understand the idea of this book without having it explained to them. Although the story in general goes from the past to the present, every double page focuses on one area, such as the black people who settled in America, the ones who were enslaved, the ones who were shot unfairly by police (children and teenagers), etc. Although there are a lot of sad parts to black history there are also pages of celebration, celebrating the sucessful musicians and sports people, for example, of the past and present. Each part of the poem/story is about remembering these people and to remember how black people were never defeated and how to be proud of them. Although this book sends a good and powerful message of black history, I do think that the poem itself might not be really understood by many kids without having an adult explain what is pictured and what it’s about, and I also think that this book is geared more for an American market as it only focuses on black American people rather than any British ones (which we also have a history of that’s worth remembering).
The pictures in this book are illustrations but they are done so well that it’s almost like looking at a photograph. Each double page, apart from one featuring a slave ship (a powerful image in itself) has a white background with what looks like almost photographic illustrations inserted on top of the white. This makes your eyes focus on the pictures more and there are lots of well known people among the images. At the back of the book there are author’s notes about when this poem was created and why, and there are also descriptions of all the known people in the book. It’s fascinating to read about all these people as I didn’t know about all of them and what they are known for doing. The book features people who are now dead as well as those who are alive today like tennis star Serena Williams.
As I mentioned before, I think this is an interesting book that would be good in a classroom or good to look at if adults take the time to explain what’s happening in the pictures to children, but I am a little disappointed at how much this book is all about the black history of America as I would have liked to see some of the proud (or not so proud) history of the black people in the UK like Mary Seacole. Overall this was an interesting book and I still think it’s worth looking at but I don’t think it’s a book to be ‘enjoyed’ as much as one to be discussed.
What do you think of this book? Who would you put into this book from history or the present day? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂