From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3–This inspirational biography recognizes the life of the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal, at the 1948 Games in London. Even though he grew up in California when "people of color" were only allowed to use the public swimming pools one day a week, Lee was never discouraged from his dream. In college, he made an agreement with his father that he would keep good enough grades to enter medical school, but continue to enter diving competitions. Yoo brings the biography to a dramatic conclusion with the 16 seconds of a three-and-a-half somersault dive. Lee's painterly illustrations give texture and depth to the full-page spreads. More than a story about discrimination and unfair treatment, this story shows one young man's determination and resolve toward accomplishing a goal in life.–Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA
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*Starred Review* Gr. 2-4. In her first picture book, winner of the publisher's New Voices Award, Yoo introduces Sammy Lee, the son of Korean immigrants who overcame formidable odds to become an Olympic diving champion as well as a doctor. In 1932, at the age of 12, Sammy fell in love with diving, but his local pool was open only once a week to nonwhites. He faced opposition at home, too; his father wanted him to focus on a "respectful" profession--medicine. Yoo describes how Sammy found a coach, maintained a grueling balance between academics and training, and finally earned both a medical degree and an Olympic gold medal. The minimal, well-shaped language focuses on powerful scenes that demonstrate Sammy's indestructible determination, his struggles with his father, and the prejudice he faced. Washed in nostalgic sepia tones, Dom Lee's acrylic-and-wax textured illustrations are reminiscent of his fine work in Ken Mochizuki's watershed Baseball Saved Us
(1993), and like Yoo's understated words, the uncluttered images leave a deep impression; an aerial view of Sammy facing the blue expanse of the Olympic pool is particularly affecting. A page of facts closes this handsome, inspiring biography, which will make both an excellent read-aloud for younger children or a read-alone for confident older ones. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved