Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team

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Annotation: A great American sport and Native American history come together in this true story of how Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner created the legendary Carlisle Indians football team.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #168005
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Square Fish
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 280 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-250-29447-9 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-2481-6
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-250-29447-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-2481-4
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2016009083
Dimensions: 23 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Although Thorpe is Undefeated's star, other compelling narratives include those about the infamous Carlisle Indian Industrial School and coach Glenn "Pop" Warner. The book identifies discriminatory societal and political factors then dives deep into Carlisle's remarkable football history and the sport's evolution. Sheinkin's multi-layered approach connects various subplots, includes noteworthy cameos, and uses cliffhangers for a propulsive reading experience. Bib., ind.
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Young readers of this biography may be surprised that Jim Thorpe, an athlete they may never have heard of, was once considered "the best athlete on the planet." Most students at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania were shocked by the treatment they received under superintendent Richard Henry Pratt, who believed white American culture was superior and to "help" his students meant to "kill the Indian in him, and save the man." New students were given new names, new clothes, and haircuts and were allowed to speak English only. It was a harsh, alien world, and only a small percentage of students ever graduated. The child of a Sac and Fox/Irish father and Potawatomi/French-Canadian mother, Jim Thorpe grew up in a mix of white and Indian culture and was better prepared than many when he entered Carlisle at the age of 15. Sheinkin weaves complicated threads of history—the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the story of Carlisle, the early days of football, and the dual biographies of Thorpe and his coach Pop Warner—with the narrative skills of a gifted storyteller who never forgets the story in history. He is unflinchingly honest in pointing out the racism in white American culture at large and in football culture, including headlines in the newspapers ("INDIANS OUT TO SCALP THE CADETS"), preferential officiating, and war whoops from the stands. Sheinkin easily draws a parallel in the persisting racism in the names of current football teams, such as the Braves and Redskins, bringing the story directly to modern readers. Superb nonfiction that will entertain as it informs. (source notes, works cited, acknowledgments, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Though arguably best remembered as a supremely gifted track-and-field star, Native American Jim Thorpe was also a preternaturally gifted football player, as the award-winning Sheinkin demonstrates in this biography of the sports phenomenon. Sharing the stage is Pop Warner, the man who would ultimately become his coach at Pennsylvania's Carlisle Indian Industrial School. The first part of the book is devoted to biographical material about Thorpe and Warner and colorful contextual information about Carlisle, its football team, and the state of the sport at the time (i.e., the early years of the twentieth century). With that established, the book hits its stride as Thorpe arrives at Carlisle and meets Warner. The result is history. Though never a good or willing student, Thorpe tween his prowess on the football field and his triumphs at the 1912 Olympics came, as Sheinkin ­succinctly puts it, "the best athlete on the planet." He evidences this with stirring accounts of Thorpe's games, especially his white-knuckle coverage of a symbolically important 1912 matchup with Army. But even better are the psychological insights he offers into Thorpe's character. Containing a generous collection of black-and-white period photographs, this is a model of research and documentation, as well as of stylish writing that tells an always absorbing story.
Voice of Youth Advocates
By the time Jim Thorpe attended the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania in 1907, “Pop” Warner had been the coach there for nine years. Thorpe, of Sac and Fox descent, started as a track and field athlete but talked Warner into letting him join the football team after showing an amazing ability to evade tacklers. After that, Thorpe exhibited such natural athleticism throughout the early 1900s that he was called “the greatest athlete in the world.” Sheinkin brings to light the shameful ways that Native Americans were treated, in this case by trying to wipe out their culture and totally immersing them in American (i.e., white) society so they could supposedly be assimilated. Warner would become the legendary coach and football innovator that he is now considered; his name is now attached to youth football leagues around the United States. Thorpe loved football and excelled at it, but he also won gold in the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games in Sweden. Unfortunately, those medals were stripped from him when it came to light that he played minor league baseball one summer in 1909, thereby forfeiting his amateur status. Original photographs help illustrate Sheinkin’s evocative writing, which brings to life events at the Indian schools, with bigotry disguised as bettering lives and the early rough-and-tumble football games. These highlights of the legacies left by Thorpe and Warner would be perfect for sparking discussion of historical treatment of Native Americans, sports legends, and the controversies of the Olympic Games.—Jane Van Wiemokly.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Word Count: 53,891
Reading Level: 6.8
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.8 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 186921 / grade: Middle Grades+
Reading Counts!: reading level:8.3 / points:14.0 / quiz:Q70251
Lexile: 980L

When superstar athlete Jim Thorpe and football legend Pop Warner met in 1904 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, they forged one of the winningest teams in American football history. Called "the team that invented football," they took on the best opponents of their day, defeating much more privileged schools such as Harvard and the Army in a series of breathtakingly close calls, genius plays, and bone-crushing hard work. But this is not just an underdog story. It's an unflinching look at the persecution of Native Americans and its intersection with the beginning of one of the most beloved--and exploitative--pastimes in America, expertly told by nonfiction powerhouse Steve Sheinkin.

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