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

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NADIA

THE GIRL WHO COULDN’T SIT STILL

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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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            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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Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd.

THE MISSING BASEBALL

From the Zach and Zoe Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Lupica kicks off a new series starring a pair of 8-year-old twins who solve sports-themed mysteries.

Even the pleasures of competing in various events during his school’s Spirit Week dim a smidge for Zach Walker when the prized autographed baseball he brings to his third-grade class for show and tell vanishes. Happily, his bookish but equally sports-loving sister, Zoe, is on the case, and by the time of the climactic baseball game at week’s end, she has pieced together clues and deductions that lead to the lost treasure—which had not been stolen but batted through an open window by the teacher’s cat and stashed in a storage shed by the custodian. In the co-published sequel, The Half-Court Hero, the equally innocuous conundrum hangs on the identity of the mysterious “guardian angel” who is fixing up a run-down playground basketball court. Along with plenty of suspenseful sports action, the author highlights in both tales the values of fair play, teamwork, and doing the “right thing.” The Walker family presents white, but in both the narrative and Danger’s appropriately bland (if inappropriately static) illustrations, the supporting cast shows some racial and ethnic diversity.

Wholesome, uncomplicated fare for the younger Matt Christopher crowd. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28936-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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