The first Olympic Games I remember is the 1960 Summer Games. I was about six and watched them on the Wide World of Sports. The Olympics were so special they interrupted regular television programming each evening for two weeks with highlights of the day's events. I fell in love with all things Olympic: the opening ceremony with the teams all marching in with their countries' flags, the medal stand, and how each time the USA won our national anthem was played. That may explain why, as a kid who did not particularly love to read, I loved reading about Olympic heroes--especially the unlikely heroes.
If you are not familiar with Alice Coachman, you should be. In the new children's biography, Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman Olympic High-Jump Champion, Heather Lang tells the story of an unlikely Olympic hero. I love how Floyd Cooper's illustrations capture the essence of poor rural Georgia in the 1920's simply with his use of color. Lang has written a simple yet accurate story of Coachman, a young girl who loves to run and jump although it is not encouraged. Not only is it considered unladylike, but it is also not a useful activity on a poor struggling black farm. The story tells of how she gets the opportunity of a lifetime to attend high school and participate in the sports she loves, but it also means she must leave her family and move to Tuskegee, Alabama, alone.
There is more but I can't tell you--I want you to read the book, especially if you do not know what an amazing athlete and woman Alice Coachman is. She participated in the Games of the XIV Olympiad in London and this summer I will be watching the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London, so this is a fitting time for her story to be retold in this book. I fell in love with the Olympics, the pageantry and competition along long time ago. I still get excited when I see the opening ceremonies, watch the Medal ceremony and hear the USA national anthem play and and I still love a great story about an unlikely Olympic hero.
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