Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 8, 2019

Book Giveaway – A FIST FOR JOE LOUIS AND ME by Trinka Hakes Noble

Trinka Hakes Noble has a picture book titled, A FIST FOR JOE LOUIS AND ME, published by Sleeping Bear Press. She has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Trinka and Nickie!

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Gordy and his family live in Detroit, Michigan, the heart of the United States automobile industry. Every night after coming home from work at one of the plants, Gordy’s father teaches him how to box. Their hero is the famous American boxer Joe Louis, who grew up in Detroit. But the Great Depression has come down hard on the economy. Detroit’s auto industry is affected and thousands of people lose their jobs, including Gordy’s father. When his mother takes on work with a Jewish tailor, Gordy becomes friends with Ira, the tailor’s son, bonding over their shared interest in boxing and Joe Louis. As the boys’ friendship grows, Gordy feels protective of Ira, wanting to help the new boy fit in. At the same time, America is gearing up for the rematch between Joe Louis and the German boxer, Max Schmeling. For many Americans this fight is about good versus evil (US against Nazi Germany). Against the backdrop of the 1938 Fight of the Century, a young boy learns what it means to make a stand for a friend.


A Fist for Joe Louis and Me has a long book journey.  It all started about ten years ago when I was speaking at the Michigan Reading Association Conference in Detroit, Michigan.  The conference was held in downtown Detroit’s Cobo Center.  On my way to my presentation, I was inexplicably drawn to a display case in the middle of the busy lobby, which held a rather small, unassuming bronzed boxing glove.  Underneath was a sign that read: THE GLOVE THAT FLOORED NAZI GERMANY…Through the generosity of Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Fred and Marguerite Guinyard.

 It took a few minutes for me to realize that this was the glove that Joe Louis wore when he knocked out the German boxer, Max Schmeling in what was called The Fight of the Century in 1938.   The very same glove!  I couldn’t move and stood there in awe for a long time.  I knew a little about Joe Louis and that fight, but I needed to learn more, understand more about this boxing glove, Joe Louis and what was happening in America at that time.  Inspiration began to build inside me.  I knew right then that I had to write a story for young readers about this important event in our history.  Needless to say, I was late for my presentation, but since my audience was primarily book lovers, I thought they would understand.

Years went by, and during that time I wrote many other books for children including several historical fiction books for the Sleeping Bear Press series, Tales of Young Americans: The Scarlet Stockings Spy (2004), The Last Brother (2005) and most recently, Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade (2017).  Yet, Joe Louis’s boxing glove never left me.  But would it make a good story for kids today?  Do they even know who Joe Louis was?  Can I tie it in with American history and still make a good story?  Then, I began to think of it as a Tales of Young Americans and that gave the possibility credence.  Slowly I began to form tentative characters and a loose plot.  I knew I wanted the two boy characters to be affected by their time: the Great Depression, the rise of Nazi Germany and looming World War II.  But more importantly I wanted them to learn what it means to take a stand, to defend what is right, just like Joe Louis did in the Fight of the Century, all against the backdrop of 1938 Detroit.  And yet, I hadn’t written a word.

Then, in 2017, while having lunch with my brilliant editor, Barb McNally at Sleeping Bear Press, I began to tell her a little bit of this story that was swirling around in my head.  Her eyes brightened and she flashed a winning smile.  “I love it!” she said.  Believe me, this is music to any writer’s ears, but it also means that now I have to write it, and make sure she still loves it when she reads that first draft, and the second and the third.  Now the real journey of A Fist for Joe Louis and Me was underway.

Over the next year, with input from Barb, I wrote and rewrote several more drafts of this manuscript until it began to evolve and solidify.  Finally, my manuscript was submitted to acquisitions.  To my delight, the story was acquired by Sleeping Bear Press and slated for its Tales of Young Americans series for the fall 2019 list.  Now the search for just the right illustrator began.  I was so happy when the talented Nicole Tadgell was chosen, and the equally talented Jennifer Bacheller was on board as the book designer.   I couldn’t have asked for a better team than this.   Now A Fist for Joe Louis and Me was on its way!

But the writing part of this journey was not finished. As Nicole’s artwork began to come in, Barb and I studied her illustrations to make sure that all visual information and details were historically correct for 1938, but more importantly, we tweaked the text to make sure it matched her illustrations.  In a picture book, text and art must fit together like a glove. Even a day or two before the book was off to the printers, we changed a word here and there. That is how much care and attention is given to a book, not only by myself, and my editor, but also by the whole Sleeping Bear Press team.

Below Coloring Page of Above Illustration:

Coloring Page
But this book’s journey is still not complete until it is in the hands of a young reader.  It is my sincere hope that A Fist for Joe Louis and Me will evoke in all readers, young and not so young, the same powerful feelings and deep inspiration I felt when I first saw Joe Louis’s boxing glove in Detroit all those years ago.


Trinka Hakes Noble is the award-winning author of over thirty picture books.  The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash, (ALA Notable, PBS Reading Rainbow feature, Booklist Children’s Editors’ Choice, IRA Children’s Choice, American Book Award, Scholastic Book Club Selection), illustrated by Seven Kellogg, just celebrated its 39th year in print.  Three more Jimmy’s Boa books complete the series.  Meanwhile Back At The Ranch (PBS Reading Rainbow feature, American Book Award, Arizona Young Readers Award, North Dakota Flicker-Tail Award) is celebrating its 30th year in print.  Apple Tree Christmas, which she wrote and illustrated, (Cricket Magazine, The Golden Books Treasury of Christmas, Junior Literary Guild Selection) is presently in a Holiday Classic edition.


Other titles include The Scarlet Stockings Spy, (ILA Teacher’s Choice, Chicago’s Crystal Book Award of Excellence, Learning Magazine Teacher’s Choice Award), The Last Brother, (IPPY Award Bronze, PLA Carol Field Honor Book, Storytelling Magazine Honor Award, Scholastic Book Club Selection), and The Orange Shoes (ILA Teacher’s Choice, NAPPA Honors, Jefferson Cup Award Nominee, CBC Best Books).

Her latest titles are The Legend of the Jersey Devil (2013), Lizzie and the Last Day of School (2015), The Legend of Sea Glass (2016), and Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade (Fall/2017)Her newest title is A Fist for Joe Louis and Me (2019).

Ms. Noble graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in painting, and went on to study children’s book writing and illustration in New York City at Parson’s School of Design, the New School University , Caldecutt medalist Uri Schulivitz’s Greenwich Village Workshop, and most recently at New York University.

Ms. Noble is a board member of The New Jersey Center for the Book, The Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature, The Author’s Guild and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.  In 2002, she was awarded Outstanding Woman in Arts and Letters from the state of New Jersey for her life-time work in children’s books along with letters of accommodation from The US House of Representatives, the US Senate and the US Congress.  She was also awarded Author of the Year, 2016/2017, by the New Jersey Association of School Librarians.  She lives in a circa 1780 house in historic Northern New Jersey.  Learn more at


I was thrilled to work on something that had to do with Detroit, as I was born there! My sister helped out with the research, finding video resources of kids boxing in the 1930s. Together we found many boxing images from that time. I really saw this as an opportunity to paint a city using an usual color techniques that I enjoy I wanted to use color in a unique way that show the liveliness that is in an urban setting. I did not want it to look at all depressing!

Although I work traditionally, I do use several digital techniques along the way. I used my iPad for some of the rough sketches, I scan, clean up, and do some composition corrections in Photoshop. Then I print the final drawings directly onto watercolor paper, and paint traditionally, then I scan the work and adjust a little, and upload files for a completed book!

A book is always a team effort. I have so much gratitude for the author, the editor, and all the staff that I worked with at Sleeping Bear Press. I was happy to use memories of the neighborhoods. My grandparents and extended family lived in 1930s style Bungalows in those old Detroit neighborhoods. I relied primarily on memories of what it felt like to be there in order to evoke a strong emotional connection, which is central to how I create my art. I hope everyone enjoys this book!

Trinka and Nickie, thank you for sharing your gorgeous book and its’ journey with us. I am so happy that you sent me a copy. I am really impressed by the quality of the pictures books Sleeping Bear Press is publishing. Everyone who reads this book will be struck by the story, the writing, and the illustrations. Great team effort!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. A Fist for Joe Louis and Me sounds and looks wonderful, Trinka and Nicole! Thanks, Kathy. I read your blog first, every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a huge fan of stories about inspirational historical figures like Joe Louis. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and pinned an image on Pinterest:
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, have a great day!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for a great post and an in-depth look at what went into the creation of this story. It sounds amazing, and I look forward to reading it!

    I tweeted and posted this on FB to help get the word out!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This book looks amazing, what a beautiful tribute to hear this story of Joe Lewis.Thanks for writing it, and also thanks for the lovely illustrations.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The story of this book coming together is as exciting as the topic. Terrific post!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Such a wonderful backstory! Can’t wait to read your latest!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Beautiful backstory & book! Thanks for sharing! I’ve always admired your books.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wonderful! This sounds like a great book! Thanks for sharing! Congratulations! Following your blog and sharing on Twitter.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. So excited to check this one out! Shared on twitter as well and follow the blog.

    Liked by 2 people

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