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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A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.


From the Rafi and Rosi series

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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