Poised for the 2016 Summer Games, this pays a respectful, 40th-anniversary tribute to Comaneci’s soaring achievements.



Gray presents the childhood of the sensational Romanian gymnast who, at age 14, won five medals at the 1976 Olympics.

Early on, Nadia’s parents enroll her in gymnastics lessons to channel her exuberant energy. At 6, she’s spotted by Bela and Marta Karolyi and enrolled at their gymnastics school. With practice, Nadia graduates from cartwheels on the floor to difficult moves on the high beam. Her arduous road to success is highlighted at her first Romanian Junior National Championships, where she falls three times and finishes 13th. Determination and hours of daily practice lead to gold the very next year and later, to her stunning performances at the 1976 Olympics, where she awes observers, earning seven perfect 10 scores. Gray’s narrative is as sprightly as a gymnast’s back flips. She cultivates simple dramatic scenes: “The audience gasped as she twirled and whipped and flipped. / … / After a long wait, the scoreboard flashed a number: 1:00. A terrible score.” (The scoreboard, programmed for scores through 9:99, belied Nadia’s perfection.) Davenier’s watercolor, ink, and pencil pictures capture events in double-page spreads and spots. Depicted multiple times on the page, Nadia leaps and spins through dazzling routines. Davenier applies skin tones as loose blobs that partly color white faces; crowds and performers, even at the Olympics, are homogeneously fair-skinned.

Poised for the 2016 Summer Games, this pays a respectful, 40th-anniversary tribute to Comaneci’s soaring achievements. (afterward, timeline, quotation sources, selected bibliography, websites, two photographs) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-31960-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.


If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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