By: Richard Michelson
Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: January 2012
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: February 9, 2012
William Powell was a young man who liked golf. No, actually he absolutely LOVED golf and would do anything to play. But Willie, an African American born in 1916, grew up in an era when discrimination was common. If he was going to realize his dream of playing golf, he would have to be twice as good as the other players.
In elementary school, Willie loved going to the nearby golf course to watch the adults play golf. But when he asked to be taught how to play, he was told, “your kind is not welcome here.” Willie was heartbroken but he didn’t let that stop him. He kept going to the golf course and watching. His persistence paid off and young Willie was eventually offered a caddy position. Every summer he worked as a caddy and studied how the players hit the ball. Maybe someday he would get to play the game.
When the doctor who employed Willie’s mother offered to teach him how to play, Willie was overjoyed. He practiced and practiced and by high school was playing on the school team. While he was the best golfer on his high school team, he continued to be met with prejudice against African Americans at every turn. The young golfer, however, never let that stop him. He met each challenge and continued to reach for his dream.
Returning from World War II, Willie dreamed of building a golf course where the only color that mattered, “was the color of the greens.” Would he be able to achieve his dream of designing and building a golf course where everybody, of every color, was welcome to play?
Twice as Good recalls the amazing story of one incredibly talented and determined man who fought against the odds to realize his dream. In author Michelson’s capable hands, the narrative is never preachy or gloomy, instead it is upbeat and positive. Powell’s never-give-up attitude is shown repeatedly and it offers an excellent lesson to children in dealing with adversity in their own lives. The chalk drawings, with their subtle hues and tones capture the mood and times of Powell’s youth perfectly.
Quill says: The inspiring true story of a golf pioneer who faced discrimination at every turn but never let it stop him from realizing his dream. This book should be in every classroom!