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Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper Hardcover – December 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (January 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080758035X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807580356
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 8.8 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #748,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Tells how Alice Coachman, born poor in Georgia, became the first African American woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

About the Author

Even as a child, Ann Malaspina liked to write stories. Ann has written numerous books for young people including Finding Lincoln and Phillis Sings Out Freedom. Ann lives in New Jersey with her husband and two sons. www.annmalaspina.com

Eric Velasquez, the son of Afro-Puerto Rican parents, was born in Spanish Harlem and grew up in Harlem in New York City. As a child, his love for doodling and drawing was strongly encouraged by his mother. From his grandmother he inherited a love of music and from his father he developed a love of movies. Growing up in this setting, Eric says, "Becoming an artist was a natural choice for me. I have never thought of being anything else." http://www.ericvelasquez.com/

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on March 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Young Alice Coachman, growing up in segregated Albany, Georgia, in the 1930's, just couldn't help herself. She wanted to soar and touch the sky.

"Bare feet shouldn't fly./Long legs shouldn't spin./Braids shouldn't flap in the wind./'Sit on the porch and be a lady,' Papa scolded Alice," this book about the future Olympic athlete begins. When she watched boys doing the high jump at a track meet, "Alice's feet tingled, wanting to try."

We see Alice's dreams growing bigger as she gets older, until finally the high school coach needed a jumper for a track and field tournament in Alabama. Her family was too poor to afford proper clothes for the competition, so her teachers pitched in and bought her shoes, shorts, and bright white socks. For the first time, she competed with the best black athletes in the South. In 1939, she won her first national medal, and soon she was asked to enroll at Tuskegee, where she'd be able to train with the best. Alice worked hard to pay her school fees.

Alice dreamed of the Olympics, but with the world consumed by war there were no games to enter. Could she still compete in 1948? Would she achieve her dream of a gold medal in the high jump--and finally touch the sky?

Written in a simple yet poetic style, this book captures the spirit of a true American heroine and a pioneer in sports, one who is not widely known today. It's a real "girl power" story, as well as a tale about overcoming prejudice. The stunning large format oil paintings, by illustrator Eric Velasquez, with their vibrant colors and sweeping compositions, capture the intensity of Alice's story, and especially of her jumping.

An author's note shows photographs of the real Alice and her teammates and tells about what happened to Alice after her triumph at the Olympics. A bibliography is also included.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on March 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Already at a young age, Alice Coachman liked nothing better than to race down the dirt road in her home town and soar high above the ground when playing basketball during school recess. It did not take long before her skills gained notice, and Alice was invited to enroll at Tuskegee Institute and join their track and field team. Not only did Alice dominate in the high jump at U.S. competitions, she wound up winning first place at the 1948 Olympics and becoming the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

Intertwined with this informative biography are several economics lessons, including the difficulties experienced by vulnerable households during the Great Depression, and the barriers faced by African Americans in businesses and communities across the country before the Civil Rights movement. The lyrical prose and striking images make Alice Coachman's story more accessible for young children who otherwise may miss the opportunity to learn about this influential athlete.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm an illustration fanatic, and this book is a delight for the eyes. Too bad that Alice Coachman's inspirational story is told in free verse. Notice for authors and publishers: It's time for paragraphs. We want our kids to read and write paragraphs.
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More About the Author

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Ann Malaspina began her writing career as a newspaper reporter in Boston. Her books for children have been recognized with the ALA's Amelia Bloomer List, Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, Picture Book Award from the Asian Pacific American Library Association, International Reading Association, Horace Mann Upstanders Book Awards, lists of state reading associations,and Reading Rainbow. She is an MFA student at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives with her family in New Jersey.

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Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper
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