Children's LiteratureIn awkward, clumsy prose, Jo Harper relates the life story of a significant figure in both sports and African-American history, Wilma Rudolph. Born in Clarkesville, Tennessee, Wilma Rudolph would set world records in women's track while still in high school. During her high school career, she would also compete in the 1956 Olympics, earning a bronze medal. While in college, Rudolph would become the first American woman to win three gold medals when she participated in Rome's 1960 Olympics. Struggling to balance her athletics, family, and education throughout much of her life, Rudolph died of a brain tumor in 1994. Commendably, the work also focuses on the runner's confrontation with racial issues as this theme continually revisited her life. The author also takes care to focus on the significance of hard work and determination despite personality conflicts with mentors. Despite Harper's tendency toward inelegant and somewhat condescending writing, this work captures the life and triumphs of an American sports hero who deserves to be better remembered. 2004, Simon & Schuster, Ages 8 to 12.
K. C. Manus