Reviews for Wilma Unlimited : How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman


Horn Book Guide Reviews 1996
Rudolph overcame polio and the inability to walk and became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics. Brightly colored paintings contrast with sepia-toned photographic backgrounds, creating juxtapositions that extend both the text and the pictures in the foreground. Krull's understated conversational style is perfectly suited to Rudolph's remarkable and inspiring story. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 1996 #5
Illustrated by David Diaz. An inspiring picture book tells the story of the indomitable Wilma Rudolph, who, although she weighed only a little more than four pounds when she was born and contracted polio when she was five, went on to become the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics. The book's design is similar to that of the Caldecott medalist's Smoky Night, in that brightly colored acrylic, watercolor, and gouache paintings are placed against equally dynamic sepia-toned photographic backgrounds, creating juxtapositions that thoughtfully extend both the text (which is in an unfortunately distracting typeface) and the pictures in the foreground. Diaz creates illustrations of Rudolph that artfully capture her physical and emotional determination as well as the beauty of her body in motion. Krull's understated, well-paced conversational style is perfectly suited to tell Rudolph's remarkable life story. (An author's note provides information on the athlete's later life.) A winning biography that highlights perseverance and true heroic courage. ellen fader Copyright 1998 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1996 March
~ 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) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1996 April #5
"No one expected such a tiny girl to have a first birthday," begins this inspiring biographical sketch of a legendary track stars. Born in 1940 in Tennessee, the chronically sickly though "lively" Rudolph contracted polio just before her fifth birthday. Though not expected to walk again, the fiercely determined girl persevered with her leg exercises; by the time she was 12, she no longer needed her steel brace. Eight years later, Rudolph represented the U.S. in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, where, despite a twisted ankle, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals during a single Olympic competition. Krull's (Lives of the Musicians) characteristic, conversational style serves her especially well here. Through her words the nearly superhuman Rudolph seems both personable and recognizable. Rendered in acrylic, watercolor and gouache, Caldecott Medalist Diaz's (Smoky Night) imposing, richly hued illustrations have a distinctive, cubist feel. The artist's bold design superimposes this art against sepia-toned photographs of relevant background images: playground sand, wooden fence slats, the gravel of a running track. This juxtaposition yields busy, effectively textured pages, flawed only by the text's curiously embellished font-the letters look as though they have been speckled with either ink blots or dust. A triumphant story, triumphantly relayed. Ages 7-12. (Apr.) Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1996 June
K-Gr 5 The story of Wilma Rudolph, the prematurely born black child who, despite suffering from polio, became the first woman to win three Olympic gold medals. The narrative could very easily slip into sentimentality. It is to Krull's credit that though her telling is affecting, it is also crisp and matter of fact, very much in the spirit of Rudolph's deep day-to-day determination. However, the real impact of this book lies in the potent melding of powerful prose with Diaz's stunning artwork. His watercolor and acrylic illustrations with definite black outlining create a stained-glass effect, and the paintings themselves are backed on sepia photographs that relate to the text. For example, narrative about Wilma's bus trips to Nashville is matched with an illustration showing the girl and her mother at the back of the bus. This in turn is superimposed over a photograph of a bus tire. Children will listen raptly to this inspirational tale, which is especially appropriate for this Olympic year. Ann Welton, Terminal Park Elementary School, Auburn, WA Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1998 March
An athlete's determined efforts to succeed against all odds. The dynamic artwork is as fluid and vivacious as Rudolph herself. (June 1996) Copyright 1998 School Library Journal

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