cover image Maya and the Beast

Maya and the Beast

Maya Gabeira, illus. by Ramona Kaulitzki. Abrams, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-6000-6

Gabeira draws on her experiences as a professional surfer to craft this eager story about a child’s beginnings in the sport. For its setting, the book takes Nazaré, Portugal—per an author’s note, Gabeira’s present residence and the location of her record-breaking surfs. Asthmatic child heroine Maya starts out “shy” and feeling “fragile and scared,” but after witnessing surfers riding a massive wave dubbed the Beast, she’s compelled to get on a board herself. At first, surfing seems like a boys’ club, but encouragement comes from listening to a seashell, and daily practice soon has her feeling “resilient,” “powerful,” and “happy.” The frenetic energy of azure waves fill the pages of Kaulitzki’s digital illustrations, which make palpable the ebullience that tan-skinned Maya feels when surfing. In a lengthy author’s note, Gabeira reflects on her own journey and the challenges faced by women and girls in a male-dominated sport. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)