I recently read "A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Lewis." It was curiosity about Newberry Award-winning author Matt de la Pena (recently honored for his work on "Last Stop Market Street") that drew me to this book. But I walked away from it with a sense of awe over the illustrations. Kadir Nelson is the artist who created these gorgeous visuals.
Nelson's illustrations are superbly composed, glossy, dark and deep, and brimming with understated empathy. In particular, it was a brave choice to depict dark skin against dark backgrounds, as Nelson does several times with stunning success. The color palate in this book is a pleasure to experience--from the muted, pock-marked green walls of the boxing gym, to the stark white of the mat, to the blackest of blacks at the boxers' backs as they fight in the ring.