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Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman Hardcover – April 1, 1996

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Hardcover, April 1, 1996
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; 1st ed edition (April 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152012672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152012670
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 11.1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #927,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"No one expected such a tiny girl to have a first birthday," begins this inspiring biographical sketch of a legendary track stars. Born in 1940 in Tennessee, the chronically sickly though "lively" Rudolph contracted polio just before her fifth birthday. Though not expected to walk again, the fiercely determined girl persevered with her leg exercises; by the time she was 12, she no longer needed her steel brace. Eight years later, Rudolph represented the U.S. in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, where, despite a twisted ankle, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals during a single Olympic competition. Krull's (Lives of the Musicians) characteristic, conversational style serves her especially well here. Through her words the nearly superhuman Rudolph seems both personable and recognizable. Rendered in acrylic, watercolor and gouache, Caldecott Medalist Diaz's (Smoky Night) imposing, richly hued illustrations have a distinctive, cubist feel. The artist's bold design superimposes this art against sepia-toned photographs of relevant background images: playground sand, wooden fence slats, the gravel of a running track. This juxtaposition yields busy, effectively textured pages, flawed only by the text's curiously embellished font-the letters look as though they have been speckled with either ink blots or dust. A triumphant story, triumphantly relayed. Ages 7-12.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 5?The story of Wilma Rudolph, the prematurely born black child who, despite suffering from polio, became the first woman to win three Olympic gold medals. The narrative could very easily slip into sentimentality. It is to Krull's credit that though her telling is affecting, it is also crisp and matter of fact, very much in the spirit of Rudolph's deep day-to-day determination. However, the real impact of this book lies in the potent melding of powerful prose with Diaz's stunning artwork. His watercolor and acrylic illustrations with definite black outlining create a stained-glass effect, and the paintings themselves are backed on sepia photographs that relate to the text. For example, narrative about Wilma's bus trips to Nashville is matched with an illustration showing the girl and her mother at the back of the bus. This in turn is superimposed over a photograph of a bus tire. Children will listen raptly to this inspirational tale, which is especially appropriate for this Olympic year.?Ann Welton, Terminal Park Elementary School, Auburn, WA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
The illustrations for this book are very unique and beautiful.
I almost didn't bring it home, thinking she was too young, but I'm so glad we did.
Jessie J
Her determination and ability to overcome adversity are truly remarkable.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Inspirational stories fill hundreds of picture books every year. Most are simply awful. They either tell tales that are loose plots barely supported by facts or they paste together a slapdash concoction of truth and fiction with as little thought as possible. The truly beautiful bio-picture books out there are as rare as hummingbirds in autumn. So it was with great joy that I located "Wilma Unlimited" and found it to be not only inspirational but also a darned good read. Written by Kathleen Krull (the woman who could make long dead musicians fascinating in "Lives of the Musicians" and bring Cesar Chavez to life in the recent "Harvesting Hope") and illustrated by David Diaz the book is the best possible way to introduce kids to one of the world's greatest athletes.

Born in 1940 to a family of twenty-one people (nineteen siblings, no less), Wilma Rudolph was initially a sickly child. Though she was energetic enough, she often caught every disease imaginable. At the age of five, Wilma's left leg twisted inward and it was clear that she'd come down with polio. Still, Wilma was a determined child and she consistently exercised her unruly leg to get stronger. After continual practice, she was finally able to walk free of the leg brace that had weighed her down. At twelve the brace was put away for good and Wilma started participating in sports. She led her high school basketball team to the finals, catching the eye of a college coach. Before you knew it, Wilma was recruited into the Tennessee State University's track-and-field team on a full ride scholarship. In 1960 she competed in the Olympic Games in Rome. The book sets this part up beautifully.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
I liked Wilma Unlimited becuase Wilma had a lot of courage to do whats right. One way Wilma had courage was she took off her leg brace and walked in front of church. I liked how Wilma was a hero, for example, when she got in the world Olympic races and won them. I liked it when Wilma did what she wanted for example, when she played basketball for the first time. I also liked how the book kept on going until Wilma died. Read the book because it's great!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on December 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"Wilma Unlimited" is a stunning blend of art and history. Author Kathleen Krull and illustrator David Diaz have done an outstanding job in bringing to life the story of Olympic heroine Wilma Rudolph, the African-American runner who overcame a disabling childhood illness and ultimately triumphed at the 1960 Rome Olympics.
Krull tells Wilma's story in a simple, straightforward way that should appeal to young readers. Her prose is accompanied by Diaz's truly memorable artwork. His full-color illustrations, which strike a perfect balance between realism and stylization, really convey the emotion of each stage in Wilma's incredible journey.
"Wilma Unlimited" is a story of working hard and overcoming adversity. Although much of the story is set in the world of sports, the message of this book is universal. If your child is struggling with some problem or setback and needs a book to renew his/her sense of hope, this might be the ideal choice. Krull and Diaz have created a wonderful tribute to a remarkable woman.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kristi Brecheisen on February 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have used Wilman Unlimited in my classroom for the past few years. It is a fantastic book to use any time during the year, but good for Black History Month also. I use it with fourth graders to teach sequencing and analyzing character. I highly recommend this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Wilma Rudolph was never expected to live past her first birthday, but she did. That wouldn't be the only thing she would have to overcome in her challenging life. Wilma was always a sickly child growing up. Her brothers and sisters would get sick, but she would get it twice as bad. By the time Wilma was five, her family found out that she had polio. The doctors had her wear a special steel brace, and told her that she would never walk again. Growing up she would watch children playing basketball, and wished she could some day play as well. One day she decided she was going to learn to walk without her brace. So, she did just that. Her and her mother worked and worked at strengthening her leg. Finally she was able to play with the other children. She helped lead her high school basketball team to the state championship, in which they lost. She caught the eye of the Tennessee State track coach. He couldn't believe how fast she was. Wilma ended up being the first person in her family to attend and finish college. Later on, Wilma went on to win an astonishing three gold metals in the Summer Olympics of 1960. I found this book to be very rewarding. I think it would help kids that have a lot of tough challenges in life. It would also help inspire anyone that would happen to read it. I had always heard of Wilma Rudolph when I was growing up, but I never knew how inpirational her life really was, until now!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By on April 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A famous businessman once remarked that given a choice among intelligence, wealth, and persistence as the characteristic contributing the most towards success, he would choose persistence. He pointed out that skid row had its share of intelligent men, wealth could be lost in spite of man's best efforts, but persistence enabled a man to persevere in all circumstances, and often to triumph against all odds. Kathleen Krull's Wilma Unlimited, the story of how Wilma Rudolph became the worl'd fastest woman, is a tribute to just such persistence. Born in Clarksville, Tennessee, in 1940, Wilma weighed in at just a little over four pounds and continued to be a small and sickly child in a large supportive family of poor blacks. Just before turning five, Wilma was stricken with polio. Left with a paralyzed leg, Wilma was forced to hop on one foot to get around, and was barred from school because she couldn't walk. Wilma fought back by working hard at her exercises, wearing a heavy steel brace so she could attend school, and eventually, practicing walking without the brace. By twelve, Wilma took the brace off for good, and went on to become a star basketball player in high school and a track-and-field star in college. In 1960, Wilma, despite swelling and pain from a recently twisted ankle, won three Olympic gold medals in running events. David Diaz's bold, bright, stylized illustrations add a strong, colorful, and additional emotional impact to Krull's relation of Wilma's triumphs over extreme physical limitations. Set against sepia-toned backgrounds that contribute textural elements to each layout, Diaz's paintings all but leap off the page. An author's note tells of Wilma's career after retiring as a runner and her efforts to nurture young athletes. Readers young and old are sure to be inspired by this story of one woman's unlimited persistence and world class success in the face of mind- boggling adversity.
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