Major Taylor: World Cycling Champion (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
A Coretta Scott King Award winner and a Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor winner pair up for a rousing picture book biography-in-verse of legendary African American cyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor and the Six-Day Race.
One hundred years ago, one of the most popular spectator sports was bicycle racing, and the man to beat was Marshall “Major” Taylor, who set records in his teens and won his first world championship by age twenty. The first African American world champion in cycling and the second Black athlete to win a world championship in any sport, Major Taylor faced down challenge after challenge, not least the grueling Six-Day Race, a test of speed, strength, and endurance. With energy, heart, and pounding verse, Charles R. Smith Jr. evokes the excitement of the crowd at Madison Square Garden as Major powered through exhaustion, hallucinations, and racist abuse from fellow riders, who tried to crash his bike throughout the competition. Leo Espinosa’s dynamic illustrations capture the action, and as day six draws to a close, and Major’s odds narrow, there is little doubt that his triumphant rise and legacy as an international cycling champion are assured—whatever the outcome of one race—in this high-octane tribute to a trailblazing athlete.
About the Author
Charles R. Smith Jr. is the author of sports poetry titles such as Hoop Kings, Hoop Kings 2: New Royalty, Hoop Queens, and Soccer Queens, as well as Pick-Up Game, Chameleon, and the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali. He is also the recipient of a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for his photographs in My People, an adaptation of the Langston Hughes poem. Charles R. Smith Jr. lives in New York.
Leo Espinosa is an award-winning illustrator and designer from Bogotá, Colombia. He is the illustrator of many books for kids, and his work has been featured by the New Yorker, the New York Times, the BBC, and more. He also illustrated Islandborn by Junot Díaz, a Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Honor Book. Leo Espinosa lives with his family in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Espinosa’s bold illustrations pair well with the book’s action-packed story. . . Readers will be engaged and curious to learn more about a sports figure they’ve likely never heard of. A charming, beautifully illustrated portrait of a world-class athlete who deserves to be even more widely known.
Writing in a rhythmic patter that sometimes sprints, sometimes properly evokes a sense of stubborn endurance in the face of utter exhaustion, Smith chronicles the course of an incredible six-day indoor race run by legendary cyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor in 1896: . . . poetic.