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Traveling Shoes

The Story of Willye White, US Olympian and Long Jump Champion

Illustrated by Keith Mallett
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Hardcover
$18.99 US
8.75"W x 11.25"H x 0.32"D   | 15 oz | 24 per carton
On sale Oct 24, 2023 | 48 Pages | 978-1-63592-580-7
Age 7-10 years | Grades 2-5
Reading Level: Fountas & Pinnell Y
Untold until now, here is the story of Black sprinter and long-jumper Willye B. White, who went from picking cotton as a child in Mississippi to competing and winning in the 1956 and 1964 Olympics.

Future Olympian Willye B. White was born in 1939 in Money, Mississippi—but money was exactly what she didn’t have. Abandoned by both her parents, she worked alongside her grandparents in the cotton fields. Willye had big dreams, though. So when her cousin noticed she was the fastest runner around, Willye jumped at the chance to put on her traveling shoes and run her way to better opportunities. And run Willye did, first for the Tennessee State Tigerbelles and then for the US Olympic team. Her struggles weren’t over though—time and again, Willye had to remind herself, “I believe in me,” whether she was running and jumping or witnessing the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement.

Through Alice Faye Duncan’s signature combination of poetry and prose and Keith Mallett's lifelike illustrations, readers will be inspired by Willye White’s persistence and will learn how she contributed to Black progress with muscle and grit.
"Sometimes rather dreamlike, the illustrations are vividly colorful and well composed. Both art and text juxtapose significant experiences during White’s athletic career with events taking place in the civil rights movement. An involving picture-book biography of a Black American athlete." —Booklist

"A glowing portrait of an African American track and field star who competed in five Olympics and was the first American female long jumper to medal...With the vowed intent of inspiring readers to 'dream big, prepare to win, and keep their luggage packed,' Duncan frames her well-traveled subject’s long career as a free verse highlight reel—beginning at the “starting block” in Mississippi, where she was raised by her grandparents, since her birth parents were unwilling or unable to do so, and ending with reflections on her achievements...Shines a light on a worthy role model in need of fresh recognition." —Kirkus Reviews

"Piecing together White’s early life through her 20-year track and field career, Duncan emphasizes a strong sense of self-confidence and determination ('Winning is not effortless./ Practice is required'). Mallett’s realistic digital illustrations appear almost photographic in depicting White experiencing triumphs and setbacks throughout this inspirational story."—Publishers Weekly

"The charismatic subject of this picture book biography is given well-deserved star treatment here, lauding her accomplishment as the first American track athlete to compete in five Olympics while also contextualizing White’s decades-long athletic career within the civil rights movement....Young readers will be inspired by White’s tenacity, encapsulated by a mantra she shared in her later life as a coach and motivational speaker: 'If it is to be, it is up to me, because I believe in me.'" —The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books
© Tarrice Love
Alice Faye Duncan is the author of multiple children’s books, including Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, which received a 2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor and five starred reviews, and Just Like Mama, which was nominated for the NAACP Image Award. Her most recent books include Opal Lee and What it Means to Be Free, Evicted!, and Yellow Dog Blues. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee. Visit alicefayeduncan.com. View titles by Alice Faye Duncan
Keith Mallett is a painter, etcher, and ceramic artist, who has been nominated for the NAACP Image Award. In 2017, he created the Google doodle celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. He has illustrated multiple picture books, including Runaway: The Daring Escape of Ona Judge, and Curve & Flow: The Elegant Vision of L.A. Architect Paul R. Williams. His lives in San Diego, California. Visit keithmallett.com. View titles by Keith Mallett

About

Untold until now, here is the story of Black sprinter and long-jumper Willye B. White, who went from picking cotton as a child in Mississippi to competing and winning in the 1956 and 1964 Olympics.

Future Olympian Willye B. White was born in 1939 in Money, Mississippi—but money was exactly what she didn’t have. Abandoned by both her parents, she worked alongside her grandparents in the cotton fields. Willye had big dreams, though. So when her cousin noticed she was the fastest runner around, Willye jumped at the chance to put on her traveling shoes and run her way to better opportunities. And run Willye did, first for the Tennessee State Tigerbelles and then for the US Olympic team. Her struggles weren’t over though—time and again, Willye had to remind herself, “I believe in me,” whether she was running and jumping or witnessing the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement.

Through Alice Faye Duncan’s signature combination of poetry and prose and Keith Mallett's lifelike illustrations, readers will be inspired by Willye White’s persistence and will learn how she contributed to Black progress with muscle and grit.

Praise

"Sometimes rather dreamlike, the illustrations are vividly colorful and well composed. Both art and text juxtapose significant experiences during White’s athletic career with events taking place in the civil rights movement. An involving picture-book biography of a Black American athlete." —Booklist

"A glowing portrait of an African American track and field star who competed in five Olympics and was the first American female long jumper to medal...With the vowed intent of inspiring readers to 'dream big, prepare to win, and keep their luggage packed,' Duncan frames her well-traveled subject’s long career as a free verse highlight reel—beginning at the “starting block” in Mississippi, where she was raised by her grandparents, since her birth parents were unwilling or unable to do so, and ending with reflections on her achievements...Shines a light on a worthy role model in need of fresh recognition." —Kirkus Reviews

"Piecing together White’s early life through her 20-year track and field career, Duncan emphasizes a strong sense of self-confidence and determination ('Winning is not effortless./ Practice is required'). Mallett’s realistic digital illustrations appear almost photographic in depicting White experiencing triumphs and setbacks throughout this inspirational story."—Publishers Weekly

"The charismatic subject of this picture book biography is given well-deserved star treatment here, lauding her accomplishment as the first American track athlete to compete in five Olympics while also contextualizing White’s decades-long athletic career within the civil rights movement....Young readers will be inspired by White’s tenacity, encapsulated by a mantra she shared in her later life as a coach and motivational speaker: 'If it is to be, it is up to me, because I believe in me.'" —The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books

Author

© Tarrice Love
Alice Faye Duncan is the author of multiple children’s books, including Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, which received a 2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor and five starred reviews, and Just Like Mama, which was nominated for the NAACP Image Award. Her most recent books include Opal Lee and What it Means to Be Free, Evicted!, and Yellow Dog Blues. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee. Visit alicefayeduncan.com. View titles by Alice Faye Duncan
Keith Mallett is a painter, etcher, and ceramic artist, who has been nominated for the NAACP Image Award. In 2017, he created the Google doodle celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. He has illustrated multiple picture books, including Runaway: The Daring Escape of Ona Judge, and Curve & Flow: The Elegant Vision of L.A. Architect Paul R. Williams. His lives in San Diego, California. Visit keithmallett.com. View titles by Keith Mallett

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