Perfect Timing

Perfect Timing, Trollinger
Perfect Timing By Patsi B. Trollinger,  Paintings By Jerome LaGarrigue

In 2013, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting author Patsi B. Trollinger at the regional SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference.  She was sitting in a long line of authors and illustrators, signing books and shaking hands.  My initial plan of attack in settings such as these is to scan all of the book covers for people of color, so I know where to begin.  Of the many beautiful and interesting books that were on display, I saw only one that fit the bill: Perfect Timing.

Perfect Timing is the story of Isaac Murphy, a laborer and grandson of slaves who became one of the greatest jockeys in the history of horse racing.  Yet, as the description states, “…if it hadn’t been for one lucky day in 1873, he might never have ridden at all.    On that day, Isaac was offered the chance to ride a horse.  He took the opportunity and from the moment he sat in the saddle, his life changed forever.”  SOLD!!

The book looked a little wordy for my crew (The School Library Journal lists it as appropriate for grades 2-5), but I’ve learned from experience that if I don’t buy these gems as I find them, I’ll end up disappointed.  So, I bought it intending to save it for when the children were a little older.  Ha!  As soon as the kids (ages 5 and 6) saw Perfect Timing, they wanted to read it.  It was late, and I didn’t think I had enough time to get through it.  But I dove in thinking, “I can read half of it tonight and the other half tomorrow night”.   Well, with knee-slapping sound effects and Murphy racing toward the finish line, we were unable to put the book down.  We read the entire book in one sitting, and enjoyed every second.  The children were even eager to read the Author’s Note at the end–something no one reading this website will want to miss.  It was a great ride.

The next day, I eagerly approached Ms. Trollinger to tell her how much we enjoyed her book.  It was then that she shared with me that Perfect Timing almost didn’t reach the public.  What a shame that would have been!  I am so thankful that Ms. Trollinger believed in Isaac Murphy’s story, and fought to have it told.  Our bookshelves are the better for it!

Digging to The Roots – Educational Enrichment Ideas

Read author Patsi B. Trollinger’s Black History Month Valentine to racing legend  here.

For additional photos and historical accounts, click on the Isaac Murphy History Video created by the Lexington Legacy Center.  FYI: there is a brief reference to Murphy’s love of champagne on the video.  However, this is not mentioned in the book.

Click for the 1946 Kentucky Derby video – No Isaac Murphy, but a great visual!

The free Enrichment Kit for parents and educators can by found by clicking here.  It includes:

  • Racing Vocabulary
  • What does it take to be a Thoroughbred?
  • Recognizing a Thoroughbred: Not a coat of many colors
  • What’s in a name?
  • Love those silks!
  • Facts about Isaac Murphy
  • Resources for students: books, videos, and websites
  • Activities: Broom Derby, Name that Horse, Design Your Own Silks
  • Writing prompts
  • Questions for discussion
  • Behind the scenes: The research and writing of Perfect Timing


2 Responses

  1. Thanks for the wonderful shout-out for Perfect Timing. I love the description of the way you made the book come alive for your kids — a book lover passing that on to the next generation. Again, thanks!

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