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Author: Ann Malaspina

Illustrator: Eric Velasquez

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Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company, 2012

Material: hard cover

Summary: Alice Coachman was born in a time when society gave women specific roles. Sports was not "ladylike," and the idea of going away to high school to be on a sports team even more unlikely. Yet that's what Alice did. She attended the Tuskegee Institute High School and was a Golden Tigerette. It was hard for Alice and her teammates, as prejudice and Jim Crow laws were everywhere they went. Yet Alice persevered to her goal: winning an Olympic gold medal. She represented the United States at the 1948 Olympics and won the only US Track and Field medal, setting an Olympic record in the high jump in the process. This is a picture book biography told in free verse poetry.

Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 9 to 12

Interest Level: 9 to 13

Reading Level: 3.6

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: Exceptional! This is a well-told, beautifully illustrated biographic poem. The author did a wonderful job conveying the world around Alice - from her father to societal norms - without allowing them to overtake the story. The stanza repetition is just right and shows the passage of time in a new context as Alice's experiences grow.

Pros: Readers will enjoy this uniquely told, beautifully illustrated biography of an American champion. When they finish reading, they'll invariably ask Why haven't I heard of Alice Chapman?

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. Alice Coachman is someone all young readers should *meet* - not just girls!

If You Liked This Book, Try: DARE TO DREAM! 25 Extraordinary Lives   PLAYERS IN PIGTAILS   TWO WORLDS

Educational Themes: There is a narrative biography in the back of the book that gives readers more details about Alice Coachman's life. Because her life is told in free verse, it is harder to bring out other themes that can be explored: prejudice and racism; sociology (changing opinion of women's roles and capabilities); and traditions (e.g., visiting the White House), are a few that come to mind.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - picture book, biography, poetry

Date(s) Reviewed: March 2016

Other Reviews: See Critics Reviews at; and reader feedback at


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