This picture-book biography, Trollinger's debut title, celebrates a legendary African American jockey. Using the jockey's "perfect timing" as a framework, Trollinger begins with a serendipitous moment, when Murphy was 12, that started his career. Off-track scenes, such as Murphy's marriage, appear, but Trollinger focuses on Murphy's rigorous training and the thrilling races, described in moment-by-moment detail. The straightforward text will read aloud well, and the subject will interest boys and girls alike. Lagarrigue's elegant paintings wonderfully enhance the story. As in his illustrations for Deborah Wiles' Freedom Summer (2000), for which he received the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award, the images reinforce the story's sense of looking back through time with blurred, abstract acrylics, which, like memories or historical stories, only capture part of the picture. Kids will be drawn particularly to scenes on the track, spiked with the color of bright silk uniforms, which evoke the speed and the excitement of both horse and rider. A note adds more historical context about African Americans in horse racing.
Jerome Lagarrigue was born and raised in Paris, France, before moving to the United States where he graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. He received the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for his illustrations for Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles, and has also illustrated several other highly acclaimed pictures books. He lives in Brooklyn, NY where he teaches at Parsons School of Design.