cover image Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still

Karlin Gray, illus. by Christine Davenier. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-544-31960-8

Gray debuts with a picture book biography of phenomenal Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, the star of the 1976 Olympic Games. From climbing (and toppling) her Christmas tree as a child to becoming the first gymnast to earn a perfect score in any event, the “feisty and fearless” Comaneci overcame early defeats and channeled her boundless energy into a successful gymnastics career: “Nadia mounted the bars. Now fourteen years old, she was a long way from the forests in Romania. But she swung around as easily as she had jumped from branch to branch as a little girl.” The jaunty narrative takes readers from Comaneci’s childhood through her first Olympics with lively illustrations in ink, watercolor, and pencil. Davenier (the Very Fairy Princess series) depicts a determined Comaneci swinging, balancing, and flipping, all while smiling as her ponytail flies out behind her. Vignettes of Comaneci in multiple stances on the same apparatus, such as the balance beam or uneven bars, evoke continuous movement, adding energy to the competition scenes. An afterword, which includes a timeline, briefly continues Comaneci’s story, highlighting her defection to the U.S. in 1989 and her post-competition career. Ages 6–9. (June)