Game 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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Second Grade Holdout by Audrey Vernick; illustrated by Matthew Cordell. 2017. Pen and ink with watercolor. Published by Clarion Books.
Brief summary: A boy going into second grade remembers all of the wonderful things he did and accomplished in first grade. He worries that second grade will have difficult tasks, and he may not be the good student his dad wants him to be. He decides he’ll just stay in Ms. Morgan’s first grade class and comes up with all the reasons why that will be a good idea. He agonizes about going to second grade after hearing that second grade is much harder than first grade. After realizing that his best friend’s sisters are kidding about what second grade is like, he and his buddy go to school.
Comments: Students will find the boy’s reasons of not going to second grade humorous. I like how he is able to figure out that his best friend’s older sisters are kidding and teasing them about being worried about going into second grade. They actually help him realize that it is going to be okay knowing that not all of the rumors are not true about second grade.
(I may receive a small commission for purchases made with links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program. Books in this picture book blog are not sent to me in exchange for a review, but instead, are checked out from a public library)
Home in the Rain by Bob Graham; illustrated by Bob Graham. 2016 (Walker Books Ltd; London, UK). 2017 (Candlewick Press Mass. USA). Ink and watercolors.
Brief summary: It is pouring rain as Francie and her pregnant mother leave Grandma’s house and drive away in a little red car. The window wipers are going back and forth with rain coming straight down as the car moves along the crowded highway. Francie notices the farmland on either side. Wildlife live on both sides of the highway up in the hills and along the coast. The car windows are fogging up. Francie writes her name on one window, Mom on another, and Dad on another with just one window left blank. Her mother pulls over so that they can eat lunch inside the car. Francie asks what her baby sister’s name will be so she add it to the back window. Her mother is not sure yet. They pull back into the traffic with the relentless rain still pelting the car. Her mother pulls into a gas station where there are several other cars and people. Francie splashes in a rainbow-colored puddle. Her mother realizes the name of the baby sister and gives Francie a big hug as they head back towards home now with the back window displaying the baby’s name.
Comments: I liked the quietness of this story that matched the quietness of the rain coming down. Although Bob Graham is Australian and the book was first published in the U.K. before making it to the US, there are no language differences that would hinder with the story and characters. This would be great to read aloud to young students during one of those days when it is raining all day.
(I may receive a small commission for purchases made with links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program. Books in this picture book blog are not sent to me in exchange for a review, but instead, are checked out from a public library).