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A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis
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A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,109 ratings  ·  159 reviews
On the eve of World War II, African American boxer Joe Louis fought German Max Schmeling in a bout that had more at stake than just the world heavyweight title; for much of America their fight came to represent America's war with Germany. This elegant and powerful picture book biography centers around the historic fight in which Black and White America were able to put asi ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published January 20th 2011 by Dial Books
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4.05  · 
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 ·  1,109 ratings  ·  159 reviews

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Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Four star story, five star illustrations. I'd read someone's grocery list if Kadir Nelson illustrated it. Beautiful book.
Edward Sullivan
de la Pena's text is good but it's Nelson's knockout illustrations that give this picture book biography power.
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber, fought Max Schmeling for the first time in 1936 and was knocked out in the 12th round. It was a humiliating defeat for Louis and strengthened his determination to work harder and fight smarter. Louis was already a favorite of African Americans when he knocked out Jim Braddock to win the heavyweight championship of the world the following year, but it was not until his second match with Schmeling that he became a favorite with all America. For many Americans the bout ...more
Audience:3rd grade and up. Mainly boys or anyone with an interest in boxing legends. Also for those interested in sports during World War 2 or Jim Crow America.

Appeal:The story is written in verse which adds interest. It's an inspiring story of whites and blacks coming together in a time where hatred for one another was strong. Grandiose pictures. Some look like actual photos, some use the fight poster as background. Close up pictures of Joe convey the emotion of the time for him.

School Library
Jun 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Audience: preschool and up, boys, history lovers, sports fans
Appeal: This book reads more like a story than an informational text, so I would say it is fast-paced and there are characters that can be easily related to in the story. The book features large illustrations on every page depicting what is occurring in the story. This book will be loved by people interested in history and sports, because it focuses on a real historical even that took place in America while it tells a suspenseful story
Jan 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Spectacular illustrations, the text leaves something to be desired.
Michael Lausche
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This picture book is about the legendary "Joe Louis", and the story of how he became what he was known for. As a child, he did not speak until the age of six, and was disposed for how he talked, as well as the words that came flowing out of this mouth. What did strike notice about him though, was his massive hands. He knew one day that they would be put to use in fighting, and trained until the time came where he must face the biggest challenge of his life. This is where the book takes a complex ...more
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
"A Nation's Hope" is about a time when Blacks and Whites came together to support one man. Joe Louis a shy young man who began his training to be a boxer at a young age. He is not one to boast about his winning and help his opponent up after being knocked down at the end. Joe though is about to face his greatest opponent, a Nazi German who supports Hitler and the nation knows it. They want to see Joe take him down.
I am not a huge fan of wrestling, do not see the point of it, yet this story of h
Michael Morley
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is great story about never giving up, even when the entire world is watching and even listening. As an African-American in the late 1930’s, Joe Louis had to prove to himself to with his fists that he was the one America could count on. Even with the weight of America on his shoulders, Joe Louis knew he had to be the hero they needed during a terrible time of war, and with the words of Matt De la Pena, it captures what hardship Joe Louis had to go through and overcome. As the title of the bo ...more
April Moody
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Boxing Legend, Joe Louis, fought the German Max Schmeling for the first time in 1936 and was badly defeated. Though it was a humiliating loss at the height of his career, he was resolved to heal and work even harder. As World War Two was brewing, Louis was scheduled for a second match with Schmeling. For Americans the match was about much more than boxing. Louis' victory lifted the hearts of all Americans both black and white. Kadir Nelson's painted illustrations make this book a true knock out!
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Matt de la Pena + Kadir Nelson= Dream Team!
Great addition to my picture book biography collection; interesting story of a country at war outside and within, poignant details about this gentle fighter's life; the author's note at the back is a must read to gain perspective on Louis's opponent, Max Schemling. The man representing Hitler's Germany sheltered jews during Kristallnacht.

Also, someday I am going to line all my Kadir Nelson full-page portraits up on a wall. Breathtaking as always.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Kadir Nelson's artwork. He is an immense talent. The illustrations in this Joe Louis story are magnificent. Matt de la Pena's biography of the Joe Louis v Max Schemeling fight was very well done. I am very familiar with this story and this is an excellent introduction to this moment is history.
Marissa Kiddey
The story had good intentions but was a little choppily written. Doesn't explain much of Joe's life or how he made it. I expected a little more. I guess I was just judging a book by it's cover though.
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Joe Louis's fight against Germany's Schmeling was so important for Americans. This book was an interesting look at Joe Louis's life and I absolutely love Kadir Nelson's illustrations. This is a great read.
Alex Wakeham
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this biography about Joe Louis. I didn't really know anything prior to this about him, and I think it's a really informative biography about a portion of a persons life who dealt with a lot of social justice issues.
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Have to agree with other reviewers- good text. Awesome illustrations. I absolutely adore Kadir Nelson's work. I wish informational text had been added to this book.
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I got this as an audiobook, not realizing how short it was. So I missed the illustrations, but it was still pretty interesting. Made me curious to find an adult biography.
Kylie Rademacher
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wonderful biographical story telling how African American Joe Louis came to be America's hero. During the time of Nazi Rule Joe boxed the German, Max Schmeling. Whites and blacks came together during "Jim Crow America" to watch the fight and cheer him on. In sharing about the life of Joe Louis this book introduces so much historical content. The story provides so many outlets for rich discussion and the illustrations are incredible!! I am such a fan of both Matt de la Peña and Kadir Nelson, amaz ...more
Richie Partington
13 January 2011 A NATION'S HOPE: THE STORY OF BOXING LEGEND JOE LEWIS by Matt de la Pena and Kadir Nelson, ill., Dial, January 2011, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-8037-3167-7

"The world waits for Joe Louis to take the ring,take center stage
White men wait standing by black men
but standing apart Jim Crow America

"All to witness the most important
match in boxing history
Soft-spoken Joe Lewis against the one man
who put him on his back

"But Joe knows tonight's fight is bigger than any two men
Son of a black sharecrop
Mrs. Tongate
*Illustrations were incredible; The Author/Illustrator fight card was a cute touch.
*70,000 people to attend a fight at Yankee Stadium in 1938 was incredible to me.

From Richie's Picks review:
A NATION'S HOPE provides a good introduction to Joe Louis, who was world heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 to 1949 and is considered by some to be the first African American to achieve the status of nationwide hero. He achieved this status because of his boxing victory over Nazi Max Schmeling in Yankee S
Arretta Johnson
"Class, what type or genre of books have I been reading aloud so far this month? (wait for correct answer of biographies) I have read biographies of notable or famous African-Americans because the United States celebrates Black History Month during February. Today, I want to introduce you to a man who was a very famous boxer many years ago during a time when our country was about to enter WWII and we needed a hero or someone to look up to that would give us hope. The book is titled A Nation's Ho ...more
Addison White
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
BIOGRAPHY Grade 3-4:

This picture book retells the story of the 1938 boxing rematch between America’s Joe Louis and Germany’s Max Schmeling. This boxing match was much more than a simply “win”, but rather symbolized the good versus evil, between America and Nazi Germany, between democracy and fascism. The defeat of Schmeling was a moment when both black and white Americans celebrated together, despite the division of America at the time. This book connects the history of Joe Louis with the politi
James Daniels
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The story starts out with newspaper headlines on the Joe Louis Versus Max Schemling heavyweight fight. The real story starts with the life of a young African American boy with a passion for boxing. Joe Louis came into the Boxing World as an underdog, who was willing to withstand the rigger and punishment of professional boxing. Louis took to boxing like a fish takes to water. From his first pro-fight he begin knocking opponents out cold, defeating every fighter that got in the ring with him. Opp ...more
Apr 21, 2014 rated it liked it
The book “A Nation’s Hope The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis” is a 2012 Carter G Woodson Honor Award winner and a 2010 Coretta Scott King Author award winner as well. This story is about the fight in history in which the prejudice of blacks and white in America were mending and this Boxer was able to fight for his country in a unique way. Joe Louis goes through many trials in his life all the way from being a slave to being a star. I would use this book to teach children about History, about r ...more
Apr 05, 2011 rated it liked it
A Nation's Hope: the story of boxing legend Joe Louis by Matt de la Pena, illus by Kadir Nelson

Like everything else in 1930's boxing was segregated.

The world waits for Joe Louis to take the ring,
take center stage
White men wait standing beside Black men, but standing apart
Jim Crow America

In the 1938 rematch against German fighter Max Schmeling, Louis was looked upon as a nation's hope because of the impending war. This is the fight that de la Pena leads readers to, though first we are introd
Karissa Kelly
A Nation's Hope is about a black boxer named Joe Louis. He grew up a quiet shadow until he begam boxing. He became African American's hopes and dreams, their hero, and that community relied on his humble hands. However, in one of his fights he was defeated by a white German man who was apart of Hitler's Nazis. Therefore, Joe wanted a rematch, and he got one. He trained harder than ever before because this time he was everyone's hope. Everyone was relying on him because the Nazis had concentratio ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-books-read
Incredible illustrations and a great story.
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ncbla
In this impressive picture book focusing on boxer Joe Louis's dramatic second fight against German Max Schmeling, readers are reminded how sports, politics, and social reform seem inevitably to interweave. While I am glad that more attention is being paid to an event that occurred in 1938, I would have liked to have known more about the young Joe Louis as well as the triumphant fighter. In some respects the brief coming together of whites and blacks to celebrate this man's accomplishments beg qu ...more
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Another nice book with illustrations by Kadir Nelson. I learned something from it. I didn't know a ton about Joe Louis, but it was great!!

The only reason I can't give it the full 5 stars because it is just a touch just a smidgen... a little too black. As a white person, sure I would say "Of course it is a little too black because you are white" but what I mean is it puts whites down just a tad and for it to be the perfect book it would need a little more balanced. Race is a touchy subject but t
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis is a great non-fiction picture book by Matt De La Pena. The book explains how Joe goes from a shy, little boy to a big, heavyweight champion in boxing. His mom always thought he would be a musician some day, but Joe had plans of his own. He would sneak down to the gym all the time to watch men box. He knew that was the sport for him. He practices, and gets better and better, and eventually finds himself opposite a German boxer, during the hyp ...more
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Matt de la Peña is the New York Times best-selling, Newbery-medal-winning author of six young adult novels and four picture books. Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. He teaches creative writing and ...more