A picture-book introduction to tennis greats Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
“Hey, guys— / yeah, I’m talking to you,” begins Bildner’s case to prove that the tennis rivalry between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova was “the greatest rivalry in the history of sports.” With the tone of a used-car salesman, he exhorts readers, “You NEED to know about Martina and Chrissie,” and proceeds to show how each player grew up with the game and how their separate paths led to facing each other on the court. They met 80 times, and Navratilova won 43 times. Was this rivalry the greatest in the history of sports? Greater than the Red Sox and Yankees, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, Duke and North Carolina? Debatable. Like a failed drop shot, the hyperbolic tone mars an otherwise superb sports volume. Simply describing the rivalry would have been enough to show how great it was, without trying to convince readers when there are no points of comparison to others. But the lively prose and Helquist’s action-packed, in-your-face acrylic-and-oil illustrations yield a work as engaging as an actual Evert-Navratilova match. The dramatic cover and well-designed pages will draw readers in and make them feel they have courtside seats.
A fine sports story. (Informational picture book. 6-10)