Traveling Shoes By Alice Faye Duncan; Illustrated by Keith Mallett

Traveling Shoes

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


Published by (2023-10-24)

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.

Book Details

Format: Hardcover
Price: 24.99 CAD / 18.99 USD
Published: 2023-10-24
ISBN: 9781635925807
Page Count: 48
Trim Size: 8-1/2 x 11

"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