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Jimmy the Greatest!
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Jimmy the Greatest!

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  222 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
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 w ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Groundwood Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Apr 23, 2012 Betsy rated it it was amazing
Once in a while I'll be impressed by a book for kids, pick it up to review it, and in the course of writing the review become more and more impressed as I return to the book for double, triple, quadruple looks. It hasn't happened all that much lately. Usually it requires a special kind of title. So when I saw Jimmy the Greatest! a month or so ago I thought it might make for a good review thanks to its subject matter. It's not like fun stories set in poor Latin America villages appear on my desk ...more
Lu Benke
I kept expecting that I would find a page at the end telling me that this story was based on the life of someone famous. But it isn't. Without it, I'm still thinking about what kind of genre it is and whether I like it a lot or like it some. The reference to Muhammed Ali and his iconic influence with African Americans made me think of all the children's books about the inspiring influence of Joe Louis I have come across lately so that almost became the genre for me. The illustrations were fascin ...more
Jim Erekson
Feb 24, 2013 Jim Erekson rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
Wow! Unusual for so many reasons. I haven't seen a book like this convention-breaker in a long time, and not surprising that it's not from the US. I was amazed in the early pages when the kids at the boxing ring were pictured actually hitting each other. Jimmy's process of 'becoming' is an interesting one, because most of the pictures are spent on him doing everyday things while he trains. The 'message' of the book gets lost in a kind of Zen nowness, a tone that stays grounded.

There was an unde
Apr 24, 2012 Rebecca marked it as to-read
Shelves: picture-books
From Elizabeth Bird's SLJ review: "The torch has been passed on and Jimmy accepts that responsibility but the key words at the end of the book are "But for now Jimmy is staying." Buitrago is allowing you to see this book as whatever you want to see. If you would like to believe that Jimmy will leave one day to seek fame and fortune, you can believe that. If you prefer to think that this is a book about making a difference rather than chasing rainbows then you can see it that way instead. What we ...more
Lady Lioness
Making my way through the current PW's Stars So Far list.

As I write this, I'm still debating what to rate this. The ending, well, it's unusual for a children's book. I want to give Jimmy the Greatest! three stars, but should a book be penalized from straying from the tried and true? Normally, you'd think, a book like this, about a young man in a poor town who dreams of being a boxer, it would end with him achieving his dream, reinforcing the idea that you can do anything if you work at it. Howev
I loved this book mostly for its ending. The story of Jimmy the Greatest is the story of a little boy growing up in the Carribean in a small, rural town that doesn't have much. It does, however, have a gym (a boxing ring under a tree along with a 2-sided corrugated tin building). Jimmy starts to box when the coach see potential in him and really becomes quite good. He also begins to read all he can about Mohammed Ali (even while training!), admiring the similarities between Ali and himself (both ...more
Not everyone needs to leave home in order to follow their dreams, and in the case of Jimmy, who lives in a small village with one church and a makeshift gym, he finds satisfaction in the work he does there. Singled out because of his potential as a boxer, Jimmy becomes enchanted and inspired by a box filled with books and clippings about boxer Muhammad Ali that is given to him by his mentor who runs the gym. Jimmy's use of Ali's ways of expressing himself poetically and arrogantly--some might sa ...more
Jun 29, 2012 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Jimmy lives in a small village in Latin America where there is nothing but a small church and a little gym. Thanks to that little gym, Jimmy and the other children in town spend their time learning to box. Since Jimmy didn’t have much else to do, he started to train. He wanted to become a famous boxer and get his mother the icebox she needed. It all changed though when his trainer, Don Apolinar, gave Jimmy a box of clippings and books about Mohammad Ali. Jimmy started reading all about Ali, star ...more
Oct 30, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
The full-bleed digital illustrations by Rafael Yockteng are gorgeous with richly saturated colors. The details Yockteng includes add depth to the character of the village and make for a fun seek-and-find sort of aspect. There are some visual jokes, too, which fit right in with the quiet humor of Buitrago's text. Buitrago and Yockteng tell us the story of Jimmy who learns to box and love reading in his small Latin American village. As Jimmy grows up and some move away, Jimmy stays and in the proc ...more
Dec 21, 2012 Kifflie rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Well, this was different! I liked it very much. It's the story of Jimmy, a young man living in a small town in Latin America. The town is just big enough to support a church and a gym. One day Jimmy is given a box of materials featuring "the Greatest," Muhammad Ali. Jimmy decides to emulate Ali and become the best boxer he can, with the help of a local trainer. One day, though, his trainer leaves for better opportunities elsewhere. But Jimmy stays behind to be the best he can be in his small vil ...more
Maeve Mcgill
In this book Jimmy, the main character realizes that there is not a lot to do in his town. The one thing that he becomes interested in is boxing. His trainer gives him books about Muhammad Ali and Jimmy becomes obsessed with learning all about him. Althought things aren't great in the beginning, Jimmy realizes that even though he doesn't have fancy things or much opportunity, he must create the future and look for possibilities. This book can relate to many students who may not have all that the ...more
Jeanne Williams
Some people leave their homes to follow their dreams. Jimmy finds his dreams in his community. Set in a Caribbean village, Jimmy finds a trainer at the local gym who introduces him to the heroes of boxing and helps him train to be the best boxer in their area. When the trainer leaves for the "big city", Jimmy decides to stay for now in the town where, "We dance and we box and we don't sit around waiting to go someplace else." The narrative sometimes switches to Jimmy's voice in a way that helps ...more
May 01, 2013 Peacegal rated it liked it
A unique story that shows that you don't have to leave home in order to go far. Children will enjoy the exotic setting of an African village.

Veg*n parents note: There are some images in this book that will likely make veg*n families squirm. In the most graphic, we see that he has caught an alligator and is eating him for dinner. The alligator lays whole on the plate, with his body divided into slices, and a big tear coming out of his eye as Jimmy and another man dine. There are also several imag
Kathy Ellen Davis
Feb 03, 2013 Kathy Ellen Davis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I really liked this book.
It shows another culture: how they live, how they are different from "the mainland."
It shows a boy who is following his dream and researching about it and working very hard.
And it shows that, sometimes, it's best to cultivate that dream at home.

The illustrations are fun and funky too.
And he loves libraries :)

Haiku Review:
Jimmy The Greatest
boxes and reads and loves his
cozy island home
This is a great story of a young boy finding his gift. He is discovers a penchant for boxing and that is what sort of wakes him up. He starts using his glasses to read about Ali and boxing. He runs around town and trains. He doesn't go off into the world to chase his dream, but enjoys his sport, his home, and contributes to his community. The text and the artwork are engaging, fun, and smile inducing.
Jan 31, 2013 Tracie rated it liked it
Shelves: picture_books
After learning about boxer Muhammad Ali through a box of newspaper clippings, young Jimmy trains to follow in his footsteps. Ultimately, Jimmy decides to stay in his small Latin American town where he can use his skills to enrich the lives of others by maintaining the local gym and creating a library.

This is a quietly unique story about one boy's decision to make a difference in his community.
I've read this book so many times now, and it never fails to move me, inspire me, and warm my heart. It's a true gem and a wonderfully unique picture book. Motivation, inspiration, fitness, reading, finding your place in the world, supporting your community -- there are so many substantive themes woven into this story, but nothing preachy or "messagey" about it. It's a book that just makes you FEEL GOOD. Which is why I will continue re-reading and recommending it.
An inspiring story about a fictional boy living in a poor Caribbean town. Jimmy, a big fan of Muhammed Ali, is inspired by greatness and perseverance. I immediately loved Jimmy within the first few pages, and wanted to start rooting for him to make the world a better place.

The illustrations are charming, and young readers will love hearing about Jimmy's drive to make his town a better place. An excellent community-building title.
Jul 24, 2012 Rosa rated it really liked it
This is kind of a strange book about a boy living in S. America that is inspired to become a boxer by reading clippings about Ali. His trainer eventually has to leave but he stays in his town, continues training and starts to train others and maintain a place for them to go. I wasn't expecting it to be about someone staying, but I found it inspirational, so see how someone can stay and begin to help others in his town on a small scale.
Nov 24, 2012 Samantha rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books, boxing
Jimmy lives in a small town. Inspired by Muhammed Ali he trains to become the greatest box his small town has ever seen. Digital illustrations show Jimmy's town in detail.

I liked that the hero of this story decides to stay in his small town. It gives it a different feel from books that talk about people rising up from small beginnings and makes me want to start at the beginning again renewed with good feelings for Jimmy's small town.
Dec 29, 2012 Robin rated it it was amazing
Author and illustrator are from Colombia.
Translated by Elisa Amado.
Strong sense of place: a small coastal village in Colombia (doesn't say; assuming Colombia.) Humor in illustrations, and many details that carry over from page to page. About self-worth, finding your place, whether staying home or venturing out. Ends up creating library as well as running the gym.
Audience: early elementary age children
SLJ Best Book 2012
A story about a small town boxer in Latin American who decides to stay in his village, helping the townspeople, as his trainer goes off to the big city to chase his dreams and fortune. I can't say I was expecting the ending, but I think its nice to find a children's book that isn't so predictable. A book about unsung heroes.
Emilia P
Jul 26, 2013 Emilia P rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-stuff
Yay! Sometimes you can do great things in your life and stay in your own small town to do them! More people should maybe even do that then. A surprising and welcome lesson on what being the greatest really means. Plus the super cartoony, quirky illustrations basically rule. So that's good. I wish that Yockteng did more illustration in the American market!
Jan 02, 2013 Dolores rated it it was amazing
I really liked the art and the message. And it's nice to give kids an idea of how people live in other parts of the world. Jimmy is filled with hope and spirit and strength, but he's also determined to use those qualities to making life better for his own town and his own people. Definitely the greatest.
Paul  Hankins
This title is part of the summer reading blitz, but I want to say more about this book with allusions to Muhammad Ali, making this title a super connection piece for Louisville-area teachers and readers. Hold me to a later review of this book, I want to say more, but I am loading up thirty books as I type this. . .
Sandy Brehl
Jimmy, island boy, discovers his talents for boxing and for reading, which allow him to see himself as capable of shaping his own world. He does so by staying to help his village rather than leaving, as so many do, for the USA.
Digitally created illustrations with good movement and texture. Not as static as some digital illustrations can be.

Text color change when outside and inside character. Blue Roman - story. Red Itallic - thoughts inside.

Translated from Spanish. Prose.
Judy Desetti
Jan 13, 2013 Judy Desetti rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-book-k-3
Okay, but not a great story. A boy grows up on an island in poverty but still strives to be a good person. He grows up and remains in the same village where not much changes.

Not a selection I will use again.
Jul 07, 2015 Victoria rated it it was amazing
Five stars are for gems; for poetry, for genre breaking, for showing human perseverance and talent without marrying it to typical celebrity or notoriety, for depicting greatness as how you live your life rather than what you do with it. Jimmy is beautiful and worth every star.
Jan 29, 2013 Karla rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Colombian author, Jairo Buitrago,shows you don't have to leave home to be great. I loved the amusing illustrations, the gentle philosophy, and the surprise realistic ending. I can't wait to read it in Spanish. Two thumbs up!
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Jairo Buitrago es escritor de libros álbum para niños, ilustrador e investigador de temas cinematográficos. En 2007 fue el ganador del 11 concurso de álbum ilustrado A la Orilla del Viento del Fondo de Cultura Económica de México. Es autor de El señor L.Fante (2006) y ha colaborado con el ilustrador Rafael Yockteng en los libros Emiliano (2007), Camino A Casa (2008) y Eloísa y los bichos (2009). V ...more
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