“Pure poetry… Impactful & beautiful... Finally… Goosebumps… Astonishing... Required reading... Heartbreaking & heartwarming… Awesome... Stunning… Heart in your throat… Moving & gut-punching… Soul-lifting... A new classic... Heart eye emoji, star, star, star... Undeniably powerful. Black Lives Matter in poetry... A perfect book.”
— Bookshop Santa Cruz staff
Alexander and Nelson have created a perfect book that invites readers to truly feel. Every word is necessary, every illustration is just what it needs to be (even when it’s nothing at all). It’s a testament to the black experience in the United States that comes together in a central message: Black. Lives. Matter. Beautiful, heartrending, hopeful, true, and easily the best book of the year.
A new classic. Undeniably powerful. Black Lives Matter in poetry.
Winner of the 2020 Caldecott Medal A 2020 Newbery Honor Book Winner of the 2020 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award
The Newbery Award-winning author of THE CROSSOVER pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree. Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.
About the Author
Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of more than 35 books, including Rebound, the follow-up to his, Newbery medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover. Some of his other works include Booked, which was longlisted for the National Book Award, The Playbook: 52 Rules to Help You Aim, Shoot, and Score in this Game of Life,Swing, and the picture books, Out of Wonder and The Undefeated, which was longlisted for the National Book Award, and won the Caldecott Medal, a Newbery Honor, and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.
A regular contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, Kwame is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, The NCTE/Charlotte Huck Honor, Three NAACP Image Award Nominations, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. He believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people around the world through The Write Thing, his K-12 Writing Workshop. Kwame is the founder of Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Kadir Nelson is a two-time Caldecott Honor recipient. Among his other awards are an NAACP Image Award, and the 2009 and 2014 Coretta Scott King Author Award. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and The New Yorker. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.
A Best Book of 2019 from: New York Times * NPR * Horn Book * Kirkus * Publishers Weekly * School Library Journal * New York Public Library * Chicago Public Library * Raleigh News & Observer
New York Times Bestseller National Book Award Longlist Kirkus Prize Finalist
"[A] powerful tribute to the African-American experience, replete with joy and pride in the accomplishments of individual artists and athletes, leaders, and thinkers.... Poetry knows when to lean forward and when to pull back, and in 'The Undefeated,' Alexander has walked that line perfectly. This book will fill readers with a sense of the wealth and the cost of history."—New York Times Book Review
"Dramatic oil paintings expand on a deeply personal poem to showcase 'dreamers and doers,' united in solemn testimony: Black history matters."—San Francisco Chronicle
"An empowering look at the history of black Americans."—The Takeaway
"[T]his magnificent anthem to the courage and genius of black Americans has been turned into a picture book with stunning portraits by Nelson....communicating clearly that when black lives matter, America is stronger." —Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
"Alexander's poetry possesses a straightforward, sophisticated, steady rhythm that, paired with Nelson's detail-oriented oil paintings, carries readers through generations...An incredible connector text for young readers eager to graduate to weighty conversations about our yesterday, our now, and our tomorrow." —Kirkus, STARRED review
"A beautiful volume that encourages multiple viewings and further research...With a lengthy roster of accolades and best-seller credits between them, this untouchable duo's book will fly off the shelf." —Booklist, STARRED review
"Alexander and Nelson honor the achievements, courage, and perseverance of ordinary black people as well as prominent black artists, athletes, and activists....creating a through-line from past to present." —The Horn Book, STARRED review
"[A] poignant and powerful ode to the resilience and strength of black life and history in America.... Alexander and Nelson present an exceptionally moving and triumphant work. This book is an essential first purchase." —School Library Journal, STARRED review