Monday, October 24, 2011

Salt in His Shoes – Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream by Deloris Jordan with Roslyn M. Jordan illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Material from Salt in His Shoes - Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream by Deloris Jordan and Roslyn M. Jordan copyright © 2000, Illustrations copyright © 2000 by Kadir Nelson  Used by permission of Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

Michael Jordan is an international star, but here in Chicago,  understandably, he has reached super hero status. My kids are too young to have ever seen Michael Jordan play, but you don’t have to know of him, in order to  love this story. It is inspirational and just heart-warming. The book, written by  Jordan’s mother and sister, relates the story of a young, short Michael who loves to play basketball. He, however, becomes frustrated  while on the court because of being taunted by one of the bigger kids. 
Michael desires to grow taller because he believes height is what is necessary to be a great player and to win. His mother teasingly tells him that putting salt in his shoes will make him taller; she adds that prayer is also important. Michael is skeptical but follows his mother’s advice.  He refrains from going to the court as he awaits this growth spurt but diligently practices at home.  After four months elapse, and he has grow not even an inch taller,  he becomes very discouraged .  His father talks to him and explains to him that while height is not irrelevant, what is most critical in becoming a great basketball player is “practice, determination and giving your best.”   Michael realizes the wisdom in his father’s words and dashes off to the court to play. He of course scores the winning shot in that game, despite the taunts of the bully!  The last illustration of the book is  6’ 6’’ Air Jordan #23, in all his glory, dunking the ball. 

I love how the family is portrayed here. Mama and Daddy are strong and wise; they do not dismiss Michael’s worries but rather  take the time to listen to him and provide guidance and encouragement.   Salt In His Shoes has been a hit with the boys because what kid does not love to see an underdog prevail. When my 4 yr. old saw the last illustration of Air Jordan he said, “I bet that kid doesn’t pick on him anymore.” Kadir Nelson is one of my favorite illustrators and also an excellent author.  He always illustrates such beautiful African American characters. His illustrations exude such warmth and when I see his name on a book, I purchase it.

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