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Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army
Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army
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Reviewed Titles
Capstone Editions

Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army

by Art Coulson
Illustrated by Nick Hardcastle

In the autumn of 1912, the football team from Carlisle Indian Industrial School took the field at the U.S. Military Academy, home to the bigger, stronger, and better-equipped West Points Cadets. Sportswriters billed the game as a sort of rematch, pitting against each other the descendants of U.S. soldiers and American Indians who fought on the battlefield only 20 years earlier. But for lightning-fast Jim Thorpe and the other Carlisle players, that day's game was about skill, strategy, and determination. Known for unusual formations and innovative plays, the Carlisle squad was out to prove just one thing -- that it was the best football team in all the land.

PublisherCapstone Editions
BrandCapstone Editions
Age Level6-10 Years
Reading LevelGrades 3-4
Trim Size11 x 9
Page Count40



Kirkus Reviews

"Coulson's straightforward account informs readers that it was at Carlisle where Jim turned his talent for running to track, encouraged by coach Glenn "Pop" Warner. Though Jim was small for his age, he excelled in baseball, lacrosse, and hockey—and his ability to dodge bigger players landed him on Carlisle's varsity football team. . . .Hardcastle's fine-lined ink-and-watercolor illustrations project an appropriately bygone air, depicting Thorpe in motion more often than not. . . .the book is a welcome celebration of this Native American sports hero. . . .Coulson (Cherokee) does mention a more personal family history in the backmatter, as well as the stripping of Thorpe's Olympic medals (and their posthumous restoration)..." - Kirkus Reviews

May 15, 2018

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books - EB

"Coulson focuses here on the Big Game of 1912—Army vs. Carlisle—which pitted highly ranked military cadets against Indian underdogs, a grim symbolism not lost on the players, whose parents and grandparents had not long ago met on battlefields. The final score was Carlisle 27, West Point 6, with Thorpe and his teammates deploying innovative plays that “used their speed and their brains to win.” . . .There’s additional material on Carlisle, Thorpe, and Warner in end matter, as well as information on the 1912 varsity players, a glossary, and resources." - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

September 1, 2018

The Circle: Native American News & Arts - Deborah Locke

"The story could have recounted all the injustice and atrocities toward Indians at the time, but Coulson is selective in his depiction of Thorpe. The reader is left first with the impression of athletic greatness won by talent and intelligence. If that example inspires today’s young American Indian readers to reach for the stars even if they, like Jim Thorpe, are shorter in stature, well, good." - The Circle: Native American News & Arts

November 1, 2018


Booklist - Angela Leeper

"The bulk of the narrative, accompanied by action packed illustrations, focuses on Thorpe’s athletics at Carlisle, where he excelled in many sports. . . .Coulson describes the historic and symbolic significance of the football game between Army and the Carlisle Indians, and Thorpe’s role in Carlisle’s win. More information on Thorpe, his team, his coach, and Carlisle conclude the insightful biography." - Booklist

June 1, 2018

Pragmatic Mom - Mia Wenjen

"Jim Thorpe was one of the greatest athletes of his era, a multi-sport athlete, adept at track and field, baseball, and especially football. Both Jim’s Olympic experience at Decathlon and the Army versus Carlisle football game are detailed in this book..." - Pragmatic Mom

December 10, 2018

The Nonfiction Detectives - Cathy Potter

"Unstoppable is an inspiring picture book biography about one of the best athletes of the 20th century. Young readers will be amazed by the talent of football and track & field legend, Jim Thorpe. Before describing Thorpe's athletic accomplishments, the author provides readers with background information about the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and how Native children were taken from their families and forced to learn trades and give up their language and traditions. Coulson effectively writes about a serious topic in a manner that is appropriate for elementary readers." - The Nonfiction Detectives

November 12, 2018


School Library Journal - Myra Zarnowski, City University of New York

"STARRED REVIEW!  Detailed pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations reveal the excitement of the Carlisle win and Jim Thorpe’s athletic prowess, but also show the pain that Native children suffered when they were forced to attend boarding schools where the goal was to strip them of their culture—to change their dress and forbid them to speak their languages or practice their religion. The back matter reveals the more disturbing aspects of this true story. . . .This book shows that there is much to admire about Jim Thorpe and his career, without whitewashing history. A first choice for nonfiction picture book biography collections." - School Library Journal

October 1, 2018

American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) - Debbie Reese

"...I think teachers can use in the classroom, and that every public and school library ought to have on the shelves." - American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL)

September 25, 2018

Motherwell, How to help kids learn (and unlearn) about Thanksgiving - Olivia Watson

"This story celebrates Thorpe’s determination and skill while educating readers about the problematic history of forced assimilation. An important book that provides additional resources in the back for curious minds." - Motherwell, How to help kids learn (and unlearn) about Thanksgiving

November 19, 2020

Art Coulson

Art Coulson

Art Coulson, a writer of Cherokee, English and Dutch descent, was an award-winning journalist and the first executive director of the Wilma Mankiller Foundation in Oklahoma. His first children’s book, The Creator’s Game: A Story of Baaga’adowe/Lacrosse (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013), told of the deep spiritual and cultural connections of American Indian people to the sport of lacrosse. Art still plays traditional Cherokee stickball, an original version of lacrosse, when he is visiting friends and family in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Art lives in Apple Valley, Minnesota, with his wife and two daughters.

Go to the Author’s Page →