I Am Darn Tough by Licia Morelli

I Am Darn Tough by Licia Morelli; illustrated by Maine Diaz. 2020. Published by Tilbury House Publishers.

Brief summary: A young girl begins a race through the forest when she falls and scrapes her knee. She gets up and continues to run even though she is hurting. She gets a stomach cramp later on and begins to cry, but she does not give up. She reassures herself that she can finish the race. She catches up with her friends, and they cheer each other to the finish line. The young runner realizes that she is tough on the inside and out.

Comments: I like the message of this book. Grit. Persistence. Perseverance.

I think this would be an excellent book for the elementary physical education teacher to read to the class before they play a sport.

Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina by Lea Lyon and A. LaFaye

readytoflyReady to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina Lea Lyon and A. LaFaye; illustrated by Jessica Gibson(foreword by Sylvia Townsend). 2020. Digital illustrations using Photoshop CC and a Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet. Published by HarperCollins.

Brief summary: A young Sylvia, always full of music and dance, visits a bookmobile where the kind librarian helps Sylvia by supplying her with ballet instruction books whenever the young girl visits. Sylvia absorbs these and dances ballet steps wherever she goes. Her dance fever spreads to other girls in her neighborhood where she shares her new steps with them.

Years past of self-teaching. A  dance audition with Alexandra Sawicka lands the teenage dancer a scholarship to dance school. Sylvia Townsend later creates her own dance company.

Comments: I just love the fact that it was a librarian who also helped this little girl’s dream simply by finding her ballet books whenever she visited the bookmobile.

A delightful and inspirational story. Grit.

Poverty and segregation during  1950s America are lightly incorporated into the story.

“A Note from Lea Lyon” section in the back gives a brief bio background of the famous ballerina. “A Brief History of the Bookmobile” and “Bookmobiles Through the Decades” are in the back.

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena WilliamsGame Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome; illustrated by James E. Ransome. 2018. Cut paper, pencil, and acrylic paints. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Brief summary:  Six days a week, Venus and younger sister, Serena learn how to play tennis early in the morning on a public court after sweeping off the trash. Their three older sisters lose interest in tennis but not them! With hard work and determination, the sisters slowly start to win more and more tournaments and are soon able to compete in some of the most famous ones like the Australian Open, Wimbledon, New York City’s U.S. Open, and even the Olympics.   They began to gain fame and are known as the Sister Act, ranking first and second in the world.

Comments: This is a great book to teach grit! The rags to riches story is encouraging to those who are trying to beat the odds. Readers will learn that it does not matter what your background is as long as you excel at something, are determined, and willing to work really hard.

Afterword, Source Notes, Selected Bibliography, and Further Reading sections are in the back.

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Sometimes You Fly by Katherine Applegate

Sometimes You Fly

Sometimes You Fly by Katherine Applegate; illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt. 2018. Ink and watercolor. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Brief summary: The reader will learn that before one succeeds, there are sometimes mistakes beforehand.

Comments: The right side of the book tells the failure. When the reader turns the page, the failure becomes a success. Done with rhyming texts, we are reminded that although we may fail at times, to not be disheartened, as it is also how we learn to succeed. We learn how to fly.

The many milestones of growing and learning is a theme all readers can relate to as they read this beautifully illustrated book.  Sprinkled with a touch of humor here and there helps make the reader laugh while remembering and relating to the same failures.

An inspirational story to read at the beginning of the school year to students explaining that they will have setbacks and that is a normal part of life. I could see this being given to graduates also to let them know that they will fail at times as they go out into the world but to stop and learn from those failures.  It’s okay to fail as long as we acknowledge that mistakes teach us what not to do next time. If we do that, we can truly fly!

Source: Vimeo from HMH Kids (https://vimeo.com/259028983)

(I have the comment moderation turned on. Your comment will appear after it has been approved. Keep in mind that young readers may be reading the picture book I reviewed, so I will not approve your comment if there is inappropriate language. Be kind; be polite. No spam or ads, please. Because I am working as a library media specialist, it may take me a day to get back to my blog.

If you see that I made a typo or grammatical error, I’m totally cool with you politely letting me know. No need to be snarky. I am fully aware that I have an attention span of a hummingbird and miss things when I proofread. I also realize that I am not a professional writer, but I am willing to learn and improve).