From School Library Journal
Grade 2–5—"Althea Gibson was the tallest, wildest tomboy in the history of Harlem. Everybody said so." How this girl, considered "nothing but trouble," became the first African American to win the Wimbledon Tennis Championship in 1957 is both stylishly and compellingly told in this picture-book biography. From an early age, Gibson's love of sports distracted her from everything else. Buddy Walker, a neighborhood play leader, recognized her ability at street tennis, played with a wooden paddle, and handed Althea her first stringed racket. After considerable practice, he had her play at the Harlem River Tennis Courts, where she attracted the eye of Juan Serrell, a member of the upscale Cosmopolitan Tennis Club. There, assisted by pro Fred Johnson and Rhoda Smith, Gibson's game and deportment improved—though she bristled at the strict rules of behavior. Her eventual victory at Wimbledon is described in both the swinging auctorial voice and the tournament announcers' excited commentary, ending with Gibson's graceful acceptance speech. Couch's kinetic illustrations done in acrylic with digital imaging wonderfully enhance the text. Althea stands out in a blur of color against somber sepia, blue, and olive-drab backgrounds. The prose is rhythmic and has the cadence of the street, and it's a treat to read aloud. Like Katherine Krull's Wilma Unlimited
(Harcourt, 1996), this is an affecting tribute to a great athlete, and a story to both enjoy and inspire.—Ann Welton, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA
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Starred Review, School Library Journal, September 2007:
"The prose is rhythmic and has the cadence of the street, and it's a treat to read aloud ... [T]his is an affecting tribute to a great athlete, and a story to both enjoy and inspire."Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, August 27, 2007:
"[A] sharp evocation of her spirited and appealingly pricky personality. Boys and girls of all levels of athleticism will find much inspiration in these pages."