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

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

4.0 5
by Kathleen Krull, David Diaz
     
 

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One of the most energetic kids in the town of Clarksville, Tenessee, Wilma loves to run and laugh and play with her nineteen older brothers and sisters. But before she's five years old, she gets very sick, and the doctor's news is not good: polio has paralyzed her left leg. Everyone says that Wilma will never walk again.

Wilma refuses to believe it. Not only will

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Overview

One of the most energetic kids in the town of Clarksville, Tenessee, Wilma loves to run and laugh and play with her nineteen older brothers and sisters. But before she's five years old, she gets very sick, and the doctor's news is not good: polio has paralyzed her left leg. Everyone says that Wilma will never walk again.

Wilma refuses to believe it. Not only will she walk again, she vows, she'll run. It takes years. It takes hard work. But at last she does run - across the basketball court, around the track, and eventually, all the way to the Olympic Games.

Wilma Rudolph's triumphant journey is the subject of Kathleen Krull's Wilma Unlimited, a true sory dramatically visualized in David Diaz's striking illustrations.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"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.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 5An athlete's determined efforts to succeed against all odds. The dynamic artwork is as fluid and vivacious as Rudolph herself. (June 1996)
Michael Cart
nger for reading aloud. Wilma Rudolph was a wonder. Though partially paralyzed by polio as a child, she managed--through indomitable spirit and unlimited determination--to transform herself from a disabled 5-year-old to a world-class runner at age 20, the first woman ever to win three gold medals in a single Olympics. In this biography for younger readers, Krull skillfully demonstrates that in achieving her historic triple victory, Rudolph also claimed victory over three obstacles: a normally crippling illness, growing up African American in the segregated South of the 1940s, and competing in what was then regarded as a men's sport. The never didactic text includes a suspenseful and dramatic retelling of Rudolph's triumphant participation in the 1960 Summer Games in Rome. Enhancing the text are Caldecott medalist Diaz's richly colored, stylized illustrations that--though painted--have the look and permanence of wood carvings. These single-and double-page pictures are set on sepia-tone backgrounds that, like his Caldecott Medalwinning art for "Smokey Night" (1994), Diaz assembled and photographed. He has also created a striking new font called Ariel for the display and text type. Both Krull's words and Diaz's illustrations are celebrations of an inspiring life that deserves to be remembered. An appended author's note offers additional historical context.
Kirkus Reviews
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.

From the Publisher
"Inspiring."—The New York Times Book Review

"A triumphant story, triumphantly relayed."—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780152012670
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/28/1996
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
11.24(w) x 8.84(h) x 0.39(d)
Lexile:
AD730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 9 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Inspiring.—The New York Times Book Review
"A triumphant story, triumphantly relayed."—Publishers Weekly

Meet the Author

Kathleen Krull  is well known for her innovative, award-winning nonfiction for young people, including Lives of the Explorers, Lives of the Musicians, and all other books in this popular series illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt. She is also the author of Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, as well as The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny) and Lincoln Tells a Joke: How Laughter Saved the President (and the Country), both co-written with Paul Brewer and illustrated by Stacy Innerst. She lives in San Diego, California. Visit her website at www.kathleenkrull.com.
 

David Diaz has illustrated numerous award-winning books for children, including Smoky Night by Eve Bunting, for which he was awarded the Caldecott Medal; The Wanderer by Sharon Creech, which received a Newbery Honor; and Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, a Pura Belpré Honor Award winner. An illustrator and graphic designer for more than twenty-five years, he is also a painter and an accomplished ceramic artist. Mr. Diaz lives in Carlsbad, California.

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Wilma Unlimited 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
3rdgteacher More than 1 year ago
I actually did this lesson when I was being observed. My students were writing biographies and I did a mini-lesson on overcoming obstacles. Wilma overcomes may obstacles in her lifetime, so this book was a great example.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was great! It only goes to show that you can do anything you want to do if you work hard and have faith that you can do it. I think Wilma Rudolph was a great role model for women and girls and the whole world. I hope to grow up and be as strong as Wilma.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How Wilma did it was concentration and percerverence. If she can be someone who had polio then became the fastest woman in the world then you can do anything!