Jimmy the Greatest

by Stephanie Greene on January 8, 2013

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Jimmy the Greatest, picture book by Jairo Buitrago, author; Rafael Yockteng, illustrator. (Groundwood Books, 2012)

The simplicity of this charming book is deceptive. The story sneaks up on you. Jimmy is a young boy who lives in a Spartan village on a Caribbean island. What’s a boy with big ideas to do, other than fish and hunt and climb trees? Jimmy joins the only boxing gym in town – a tiny, wooden building with one ring – and learns how to box. The owner gives him newspaper clippings about Muhammed Ali, who knew he was the “greatest” before the rest of the world did, and Jimmy starts to dream. But does he go off to the Big City when the owner of the school goes? Not on your life. The idea that a child can dream about being the greatest, and find it in his own village, is fresh and different. Comforting, really: Dream big kids, start now, don’t let where you live hold you back. Highly recommended.

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