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WILMA UNLIMITED by Kathleen Krull


How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman

by Kathleen Krull & illustrated by David Diaz

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-15-201267-2
Publisher: Harcourt

 Only after reading this book does the subtitle--``How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman''--appear rife with understatement. In spite of a low birth weight and childhood bouts with scarlet fever and polio (the doctor said Wilma would never walk again) and after years of painful, relentless exercise, she not only walked, she ran: to college on scholarship, and to the Olympics, where she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in the same games. Krull (Lives of the Artists, 1995, etc.) tells the inspiring tale in rolling, oratorical prose; Diaz, coming off his Caldecott-winning work for Eve Bunting's Smoky Night (1994) again lays stylized painted scenes over textured background photos--here, sepia-toned close-ups of fences, ivy, and bare footprints in loose dirt. Though a mannered, blotchy typeface (also Diaz's creation) gives the pages an overly designed look, the book as a whole is a dramatic commemoration of quite a heroic life. Rudolph died in 1994; her post-Olympic accomplishments are described in an afterword. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)