Picture Book Pick: Sports Pick: Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still
Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still
by Karlin Gray
Illustrated by Christine Davenier
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
"The story of Nadia Comaneci gets a treatment
as energetic as the gymnast herself. . . . Sprightly watercolor
illustrations are both strong and springy, capturing Nadia’s literal and
metaphorical ups and downs as she works hard, fails, and picks herself
"Gray debuts with a picture book biography of
phenomenal Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, the star of the 1976 Olympic
Games. . . . The jaunty narrative takes readers from Comaneci’s
childhood through her first Olympics with lively illustrations in ink,
watercolor, and pencil."—Publishers Weekly
"Gray's narrative is as sprightly as a
gymnast's back flips. . . . [A] respectful, 40th-anniversary tribute to
Comaneci's soaring achievements."—Kirkus Reviews
Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still balances an endearing story of a young gymnast and her country's hopes of a gold medal. As a young girl, Nadia was said to be fearless: roller skating right out the entrance door of a department store or riding her new bicycle before her dad had tightened all the screws. She was a ball of kinetic energy that could only be contained by a gymnastics coach and his wife. Nadia's parents enrolled her in the gymnastics school where Nadia could expend all her energy. Soon she was learning routines on all the equipment, afraid of nothing. she ran, tumbled, cartwheeled, flipped, flew from bar to bar, jumped and soared.
When her team entered the Olympics in Montreal, the competition to beat was the Russian team who had two gold medalists. The crowd went crazy when little Nadia performed. She was the first gymnast EVER to score a perfect 10.0! In fact, the scoreboard could not even record her score correctly. It was designed to score only up to 9.9. She went on to score seven perfect scores of 10.0. Winning five medals, Nadia was the youngest person to win a gold medal in gymnastics history.
Beautiful water color illustrations capture the energy and bounce of young Nadia and her teammates. After the Olympics when asked by a reporter if she had plans to retire, spunky Nadia replied, "I'm fourteen years old." In the afterword, readers learn that Nadia never did retire. She continued in gymnastics and later become a coach. Eventually she defected from Romania to the United States via passage through Hungary.
This book is a winner of a sports story that both boys and girls will enjoy. Children will empathize with Nadia's energy and applaud her hard work and dedication to a sport she loves. Gymnastics was like breathing for Nadia; she could not live without it.
Highly, highly recommended for all collections. A real gem of a picture book biography.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.