A solid introduction for young sports fans.

GAME CHANGERS

THE STORY OF VENUS AND SERENA WILLIAMS

Two African-American sisters become superstars in the predominantly white sport of tennis.

Venus Williams and her younger sister, Serena, grew up in Compton, outside of LA. Their father, Richard Williams, had big dreams for his girls, and they embraced the hard work of learning and perfecting their tennis games. The girls eventually became exceptionally good, winning so many junior tournaments that word spread about them. Venus turned professional at age 14 and Serena followed a year later, and they quickly moved up through the tennis rankings. The sport had few nonwhite players, and they stood out in appearance and style. “Tennis had never seen anything like them.” Cline-Ransome focuses on the sisters’ early breakthrough years, ending the story when they first reached the pinnacle of the sport and faced each other to win major championships. The lively narrative does not shy away from the difficulties they faced but focuses on their determination to succeed and their close relationship. Ransome uses cut paper, pencil, and acrylic paints for pictures that are varied and energetic. The striking cover painting presents the recognizable faces that have graced many sports magazines. With an eye-catching design, the inside art is expressive and evocative, beginning with the endpapers. An afterword tells more of their story, including Venus’ struggle with an autoimmune disease and their off-court activism.

A solid introduction for young sports fans. (bibliography, further reading, notes) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7684-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era.

I AM RUBY BRIDGES

The New Orleans school child who famously broke the color line in 1960 while surrounded by federal marshals describes the early days of her experience from a 6-year-old’s perspective.

Bridges told her tale to younger children in 2009’s Ruby Bridges Goes to School, but here the sensibility is more personal, and the sometimes-shocking historical photos have been replaced by uplifting painted scenes. “I didn’t find out what being ‘the first’ really meant until the day I arrived at this new school,” she writes. Unfrightened by the crowd of “screaming white people” that greets her at the school’s door (she thinks it’s like Mardi Gras) but surprised to find herself the only child in her classroom, and even the entire building, she gradually realizes the significance of her act as (in Smith’s illustration) she compares a small personal photo to the all-White class photos posted on a bulletin board and sees the difference. As she reflects on her new understanding, symbolic scenes first depict other dark-skinned children marching into classes in her wake to friendly greetings from lighter-skinned classmates (“School is just school,” she sensibly concludes, “and kids are just kids”) and finally an image of the bright-eyed icon posed next to a soaring bridge of reconciliation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A unique angle on a watershed moment in the civil rights era. (author and illustrator notes, glossary) (Autobiographical picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-75388-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

BASKETBALL DREAMS

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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