Josephson’s illustrated children’s book tells the story of a girl’s triumphant tennis match.
Nine-year-old Alana is playing the most important tennis match of her life, but it turns out that her opponent isn’t the most honest of players. In this wonderfully tense recap of the match, the girl tells how her nerves and excitement almost get the best of her. When Alana’s serve lands right in the middle of the box, and her opponent lies and calls it out, she must work through her own frustration and anger in order to finish the match. Accompanying illustrations effectively bring the tennis match to life. Just after her opponent’s lie, for example, Alana says, “I was so furious! I felt the steam coming out of my ears!” The image on the following page perfectly captures this, by showing literal steam around Alana’s head as she balls one hand into a fist. There are also many lively illustrations of Alana playing tennis, full of movement and action. The tennis match continues in a tiebreaker, but in the end, Alana is able to regain her focus and play the best tennis of her life; one of the final illustrations shows Alana jumping joyously into the air as her racquet falls to the ground. However delightful the illustrations are, however, Josephson’s prose is overly sparse and simple. Indeed, the back cover gives more context and explanation for what happens in the story than the book itself—including Alana’s name and the fact that she’s playing in a regional tournament. Considering that the book is targeted toward slightly older children, the author might have added more background information to round out the story. The dialogue also includes misplaced commas and quotation marks, and with only a sentence or two on each page, such errors stand out. However, Josephson’s prose does effectively capture the voice of a young girl, and all of Alana’s emotions—nervousness, anger and happiness—infuse the story. The book also contains a great message for children: that good sportsmanship is important in the face of setbacks.
A children’s book with a fine moral and beautiful illustrations but uneven prose.