An inspiring biography of athletes, friends, partners, and sisters.

GAME, SET, SISTERS!

THE STORY OF VENUS AND SERENA WILLIAMS

From the Who Did It First? series

The latest book in the Who Did it First? series focuses on the lives of tennis-star sisters Venus and Serena Williams.

As one would expect, the book spotlights the tennis greats’ major successes and challenges in the sport, but it places an equal focus on the relationship among all the Williams sisters: Venus, Serena, Isha, Lyndrea, and the late Yetunde. Leslie moves through her account efficiently, enabling young readers to glean important information about the subjects without bogging them down in details. The book begins with their early days on the tennis court in Compton, California, and continues through 2016, when they opened the Yetunde Price Resource Center in honor of the oldest of the five sisters, who died due to gun violence. In chronicling Venus’ and Serena’s professional lives, the book does not shy away from the racism that the two faced from other players and tennis fans. Glenn’s illustrations represent the subjects well and capture the sisters’ signature beads and braids from their early years in the sport. The text falters a bit, failing to reveal why Venus refers to Serena as “Meeka,” nor does it locate geographically the Indian Wells tournament the sisters boycotted after receiving racist jeers. Dialogue is unsourced, but the backmatter includes a timeline and additional resources. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 56.3% of actual size.) An inspiring biography of athletes, friends, partners, and sisters. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-30740-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A captivating tale guaranteed to keep youngsters wide awake in wonder.

GOODNIGHT, ASTRONAUT

From childhood, an astronaut dreamed of adventurous exploration.

Famed NASA astronaut Kelly played imaginative games with his twin brother, Mark (also an astronaut), from the time they were kids, presaging both men’s future space careers by wearing cardboard-box helmets. Their mother supported their high-flying dreams at bedtime. Ever entranced by the sky, the brothers imagined aboveground adventures in the backyard treehouse and on a family cruise, where they fantasized about being weightless as the boat was tossed by the waves. In adulthood, Kelly undertook hardier journeys, and his dreams continued to spark his longings for space navigation: He steered Navy vessels and piloted jets; camped out in icy climates and explored the seas; and climbed Mount Everest. Kelly attained his astronaut goal by joining the crew of the space shuttle Discovery, then earned renown for his yearlong stint on the International Space Station. Though Kelly acknowledges home is best, he encourages readers to dream about having adventures; a charming concluding illustration features a brown-skinned girl dreaming of myriad possibilities. The engaging, gently poetic text describes the author’s ambitious, lifelong skyward trajectory and his stops along the way to space, helping youngsters understand what goes into astronaut training. Colorful, appealing illustrations capture Kelly’s fascinating odyssey, beginning in childhood, and the starry reaches of space. Scott and Mark Kelly present White; some background characters are people of color. The backmatter includes two pages of color photos. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 49.9% of actual size.)

A captivating tale guaranteed to keep youngsters wide awake in wonder. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6428-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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