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.
Reading Age: 7-10