Brazilian surfer Gabeira offers a fictionalized version of her childhood with this story of an adventurous young girl who overcomes sexism and self-doubt to become a great athlete.
The inhabitants of the fishing village of Nazaré, Portugal, are in awe of a massive wave known as the Beast. A young villager named Maya has asthma and brings medicine with her wherever she goes; though shy, Maya finds fulfillment when moving her body during dancing, gymnastics, and swimming. Having grown up hearing about the Beast, she goes to see it for herself and is in awe of the massive wave, though she also notices boys surfing on it. Maya decides to try surfing, which her father encourages. The boys at the beach tell her surfing is no sport for girls, and she nearly believes them until a voice in a seashell tells her not to give up. Both text and illustrations offer a stirring account of Maya’s journey to surfing mastery. The Beast begins as a spectacle from afar, filling the page with its sheer scope. Maya is often framed within or beneath its crest, including a wonderful scene of her would-be hecklers watching dumbfounded as she joyously surfs ahead of them. Maya and her family are brown-skinned; for the most part, other residents of Nazaré range in skin color from tan to brown. In an author’s note, Gabeira describes growing up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and, in 2007, setting a Guinness record for the largest wave ever surfed at Praia de Norte in Nazaré. (This book was reviewed digitally.)
A rallying cry for anyone looking for a strong example of perseverance.(Picture book. 7-10)