I got interested in Wilma Rudolph after seeing articles about her death in 1994. Several factors made me want to bring her story to young readers. Hers was simply one of the most dramatic lives I’d ever heard of–noble, hopeful, life-affirming. Any one of Rudolph’s disadvantages would have thwarted most of us–the polio and other illnesses, the extreme poverty, the totally stifling level of racial discrimination, the setbacks. What made her not just a survivor but an American heroine?
While I was writing this, my two stepdaughters were around Rudolph’s age when she really took off–the age when girls are now thought to be most in danger of succumbing to fear and losing previous self-esteem. Rudolph seemed a role model for how to emerge from this stage more powerful, not less, and I was interested in exploring why.
Awards and Honors
Jane Addams Picture Book Award
an ALA Notable Book
Booklist Editor’s Choice
School Library Journal Best Book of 1996
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon
ABA’s Pick of the Lists
Parents’ Choice Award
New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
The Greenwich Reads Program
10 Books on the Greatest Olympic Moments of All Time
Krull’s characteristic, conversational style serves her especially well here. Through her words the nearly superhuman Rudolph seems both personable and recognizable. A triumphant story, triumphantly relayed.
The never didactic text includes a suspenseful and dramatic retelling of Rudolph’s triumphant participation in the 1960 Summer Games in Rome. Both Krull’s words and Diaz’s illustrations are celebrations of an inspiring life that deserves to be remembered.
Krull tells the inspiring tale in rolling, oratorical prose…the book as a whole is a dramatic commemoration of quite a heroic life.
A winning biography that highlights perseverance and true heroic courage. Krull’s understated conversational style is perfectly suited to Rudolph’s remarkable and inspiring story.
–The New York Times Book Review
A simply phrased, sensitively selective account. Diaz’s artwork reinforces the mythic-hero aspects of the narrative with deeply framed compositions featuring stylized, statuesque figures of robotic power.
–Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
One of 26 selections in Janet Schulman’s You Read to Me & I’ll Read to You: 20th Century Stories to Share (Knopf, 2001)